Angel was born in 1727 to a moderately wealthy family in Galway, Ireland under the birth name Liam. His father was extremely strict, which led Liam to become a ne'er-do-well layabout out of rebellion. In 1753, at the age of 26, a heated dispute with his father caused Liam to renounce his family and leave home.
It didn't take long for a mate-seeking vampire named Darla to discover Liam in an impressive drunken brawl at a pub. When she first approached him, he was on his way to steal silver from his father to spend on a woman. Liam found himself easily seduced by the entrancing Darla.
With her bite, he was granted eternal life as a vampire and sired into the historied lineage of The Order Of Aurelius. The patriarch of this "family," the Master, is one of the most powerful vampires of the past millennium. The Master originally sired Darla when he discovered her in North America's Virginia Colony in 1608, dying from the syphilis she no doubt acquired through her profession as a prostitute.
Liam's body was laid to rest by his family, and was resurrected the night after his funeral. Waiting patiently by the tombstone for her new mate was Darla. Liam's first kill came moments after clawing his way out of the earth, when he supped on the blood of a terrified graveyard caretaker.
Wasting no time getting his bearings, Liam headed straight to his family's home, with Darla in tow. His next victim was his younger sister Cathy, who thought he had returned as an "angel." He then made short work of his parents, taking pleasure in their demise. But, as Darla was quick to point out, the memory of his father's disapproval would haunt him forever.
For the next several years Liam, now known as Angelus, "the one with the angelic face," maimed and murdered everyone he had ever known and cared for. With his lover Darla, he cut a swath of destruction through South Wales and Northern Ireland. In 1760, Darla decided it was time for Angelus to meet his grandsire, the Master.
Upon entering the Master's lair beneath the streets of London, Angelus took an instant disliking to the intimidating vampire. Showing a dangerously cocky level of disrespect, Angelus insulted the Master and gave Darla the invitation to continue living with him in the open air, rather than dwelling with her sire in a dank subterranean fortress. For the second time in his life he renounced his "family," and was lucky enough to have the Master permit his freedom out of respect.
The two lovers continued their violent conquest of Europe, tearing through Italy, but finally finding resistance in France. In 1765, a cunning vampire hunter named Holtz pursued them across the French countryside with a hostile mob as his army. When the weary vampires found their barn hideout surrounded, Darla stole their only horse and left Angelus to be slain. As an afterthought, she instructed him to meet her in Vienna someday if he made it past Holtz' militia.
For the latter part of the 1700's, Angelus became even more brutal and twisted in his barbarous onslaught. He took to carving a Christian cross in the left cheek of his victims as a gruesome trademark of his attacks. It was during this period that he sired a man named Penn, who emulated his creator and turned up in modern day Los Angeles as "The Pope Killer."
By 1860, Angelus had returned to England with Darla at his side once again. It was there that she introduced Angelus to Drusilla, an innocent young woman who was gifted with the ability to see the future. Angelus decided to make Drusilla his special toy and began to ruthlessly dismantle her sanity. He posed as a priest and told the naïve young lass that her visions were the work of Satan, from whom she was spawned, and there was no hope for her soul but to give in to evil and fulfill the Lord's prophecy. He then went to her home and slaughtered her entire family in front of her.
Drusilla was able to escape to a convent on the countryside where she would attempt to become a nun to help cleanse her soul of the horrors she had experienced. But Angelus caught up to her and, on the day she was to take the veil, he descended upon the convent and massacred every last nun. Afterwards, he made love to Darla in front of the quivering, now-insane Drusilla and then sired his conquest into vampiredom.
The three savage vamps traveled to Budapest, among other regions, and in 1880 found themselves back in England butchering mortals in the streets of London. By this time, Drusilla began to thirst for the intimate companionship that Darla and Angelus had and so decided to find a man to share eternity with. Her quest ended quickly when she spotted a skinny, insecure poet named William. Drusilla sired the easily-seduced outcast, and he was resurrected as the vampire known today as Spike.
After becoming well acquainted with each other, Angelus, Darla, Drusilla and Spike set up camp in Yorkshire, where they hunted as a disciplined pack. Although they were experiencing blood-drenched prosperity under the leadership of Angelus, Spike's brazen attempt at gaining notoriety drew too much attention to the crafty predators, and they were forced to move on.
By 1898, Angelus, Darla, Spike and Drusilla had brought their whirlwind of slaughter to Borsa, Romania. It was on a fateful night during that year that Darla gave Angelus a young Gypsy girl to kill for his birthday. The girl turned out to be the favorite daughter of a Romany tribe called the Kalderash clan. The enraged tribe elders put a vengeance curse on Angelus, which restored his soul and forced him to live in anguish over the acts he had committed as a vampire. Darla, Drusilla and Spike attacked the Gypsy camp and slaughtered the entire tribe to avenge their fallen leader, but the damage had already been done. Upon regaining his humanity, Angelus deserted his comrades and attempted to redefine himself.
Although Angelus' thirst for butchery had been extinguished, his love for Darla had not. In 1900, he tracked her down in China, where she was feeding on townspeople with Spike and Drusilla during the Boxer Rebellion. In an attempt to win her back, Angelus hid the fact that he could no longer kill the innocent and faked his bloodlust to appease his lover. On the night that Spike killed a masterful Slayer in an abandoned temple, the reunited pack decided to leave China to seek victims in other parts of the world.
It didn't take long for Darla to expose Angelus' façade. She could tell that he had been killing vermin to satisfy his necessity for blood, and she realized that the few humans he killed in front of her were miscreants like murderers and rapists. Darla finally tested Angelus by bringing him a human baby, the personification of innocence and virtue. As Darla waited for her lover to feed on the infant, Angelus scooped up the child, jumped through the window, and left her for good.
During the 1910's, Angelus moved to America and changed his name to Angel in an attempt to further remove himself from his past. While repenting for the acts he had committed as a vampire, he developed an aversion towards other vampires and lived like a transient, feeding on rats for nourishment. In the 1920's, Angel was living in Juarez when a barbaric demon named Boone took offense to the brooding outcast. The two warriors engaged in a brutal fight over a girl that lasted three and a half hours and ended without a victor. Boone was left with a bitter grudge against Angel that would not be settled until more than 75 years later.
By 1952, Angel had taken residence at the Hyperion Hotel in Los Angeles. The human inhabitants were intimidated by his fierce demeanor and avoided him at all costs. During his stay, a Thesulac demon, which feeds on paranoia, turned the hotel residents into a bloodthirsty mob. The horde turned its wrath on Angel and was able to overpower the vampire and hang him from a rafter. Angel, still very much alive, waited for the mob to lose interest and wander off before he climbed down. He indignantly left the Hyperion and its inhabitants at the mercy of the Thesulac demon.
Angel later left Los Angeles and aimlessly roamed across America until, consumed by self-pity, he hit rock bottom and began living in an alleyway in New York. But in 1996 his life was changed when he met a street-wise demon named Whistler. The Powers That Be, a force for good and order in the universe, sent Whistler to guide Angel on a path to redemption. The slick-tongued demon convinced Angel to help a Vampire Slayer named Buffy fight the forces of evil in California.
Angel first laid eyes on Buffy in Los Angeles and followed her to Sunnydale when she and her mother moved. In 1997, he began to help the slayer by delivering cryptic advice about demonic activity. One night, when Buffy was attacked by vampires outside of the Bronze, the local hangout, Angel saved her and Buffy invited him over to sleep in her room. The two began to sense a mutual attraction and when Buffy returned home from school the next day they shared a passionate kiss. But before they could revel in the afterglow, Angel's vampire face came out and he dejectedly ran away.
As both Buffy and Angel began to consider the consequences of their ironic attraction, Darla showed up in Sunnydale with the goal of winning her "Darling Boy" back. The cunning Darla made it look like Angel had attacked Buffy's mother, which quickly pit the slayer against her soulmate. Angel wasn't able to convince Buffy of the truth until he destroyed his past by slaying Darla at the Bronze. Although Buffy could accept the fact that Angel was no longer evil, the two of them decided that their poetic relationship could never work. As they kissed one last time, the cross Buffy wore around her neck burned an imprint onto Angel's chest, leaving a permanent memento of their love.
Although the forces of good and evil separated Buffy and Angel, fate brought them back together. As they became deeply enamored with one another, they decided to consummate their love on Buffy's 17th birthday. What they didn't know was that the Romany curse was predicated on Angel remaining tortured. Upon experiencing a moment of true happiness, the curse was lifted and his soul removed once again.
Angel quickly became the scourge of Sunnydale and did everything in his power to torture Buffy. After killing one of Buffy's allies and nearly claiming her other friends, Willow was able to re-cast the Romany spell and return Angel's soul to him for the second time. But fate again made a radical turn and, moments after he regained his soul, Buffy was forced to impale Angel to seal the gateway to hell he had opened. Angel was returned a few months later, but he had spent the equivalent of over 100 years being tortured in hell. In time, he was able to recover his sanity, but his psyche would never fully heal. He knew that as long as he remained a vampire, his relationship with Buffy would never work, so he left Sunnydale to find a new life in Los Angeles...
Upon arrival in the "City of Angels," a half-human half-demon named Doyle approached Angel and convinced him to help people through his visions. Doyle, like Whistler, received images of people in peril from The Powers That Be and would then employ Angel to rescue them. It didn't take long for Angel to run into Cordelia, who was struggling to make a living as an actress. Along with Doyle, Angel and Cordelia formed Angel Investigations in 1999 as an outlet for supernatural P.I. work and the rescue of the innocent.
When Angel dusted a rich and powerful vampire named Russell Winters, Angel Investigations made its first contact with what would become its most powerful nemesis. Russell Winters was a client of a law firm called Wolfram & Hart that catered to the demon community, and they immediately recognized Angel as a considerable threat to their depraved organization. Their long list of crimes against humanity included pimping vampires, organizing demon fight clubs and harvesting humans for body parts.
Although Wolfram & Hart kept Angel busy, his past love still haunted him. Angel would never fully recover from losing Buffy, but he did eventually find himself smitten by another heroic blonde. While hunting a Talamere demon, Angel crossed paths with a skilled and beautiful LAPD detective named Kate Lockley. Although Angel tried to pursue her romantically, the strong-willed detective was not able to give in to her feelings and fully accept Angel being a vampire.
Shortly after Kate entered Angel's life, another person was taken from it. During a daring rescue, Doyle heroically sacrificed himself to save Angel, Cordelia and a whole clan of half-demons. Before leaping to his death, Doyle kissed Cordelia and thereby passed on his connection to The Powers That Be. As Cordelia began to adapt to her new role as the Seer, an old ally from Sunnydale named Wesley showed up on their doorstep. Wesley was Faith's ex-Watcher and had since become a rogue demon-hunter in search of a team. With his extensive knowledge of demon lore and a bold ambition for battle, Wesley became a key addition to Angel Investigations.
As Angel entered his fourth century, Angel Investigations had developed into a well-oiled demon-slaying machine. To further broaden their scope, they found a new accomplice when Angel saved the sister of a young independent demon-hunter named Charles Gunn. Although his methods were unorthodox, Gunn was a battle-hardened veteran and became an essential ally to Angel Investigations.
It turned out Angel would need all the help he could get when Wolfram & Hart summoned a demon named Vocah, who stole the Scroll of Aberjian and performed a ritual that resurrected Darla. Angel's sire and first true love was returned as a mortal rather than a vampire, and with her return dormant feelings within Angel were awakened. Rather than attempting to kill Darla once again, Angel tried to return her to good and help her find salvation for her deviant past. He turned out to be unsuccessful, and she was re-sired by Drusilla when Wolfram & Hart reunited the two ex-cronies.
But as these dark forces were stacking up against Angel, he found yet another ally in the form of a flashy karaoke bar owner. Lorne is the anagogic green-skinned demon who runs The Caritas, which is a safe haven for demons. His ability to tell the future has helped Angel out of more than a few jams, and he soon became an integral part of the crew. Lorne accompanied the gang on a mission to save Cordelia in Pylea, his home-world in another dimension. Perhaps their most harrowing adventure to date, the gang not only rescued Cordelia and saved a kingdom, but also located a student physicist named Winifred who had been trapped there for five years. Angel and "Fred" connected instantly and she returned to Los Angeles with him to try to rebuild her life.
In season three, we learned that Angel's tortured centuries-long relationship with the beautiful vampire Darla resulted in the birth of a son, Connor. (No, vampires can't normally have children; Connor's birth fulfilled an ancient prophecy about a human child born to two vampires.) Relishing his new role as a father, Angel was devastated when Connor was kidnapped and raised in a dark dimension from which he returned as a teenager bent on destroying Angel.
Also in season three, though they both resisted it as long as possible, Angel and Cordelia were about to confess their love for each other when they were torn apart by Cordelia's sudden disappearance at the request of the mysterious "Powers that Be." The season ended with Angel sealed into a metal box and sunk into the ocean by his vengeful son.
In season four, Wesley saved Angel from the murky depths. Angel returned to the Hyperion and told Connor that he loves him, before kicking the boy out of his home. Angel fought hard to find Cordelia, but when he learned that she was safe in a higher plane, he knew it was best to leave her there. However, Cordelia was suddenly returned to the gang - with no memory of who she is. Seeing that she was frightened, the gang wasn't completely honest about who they are - and who she is. After learning that they lied to her, she decided to stay with Connor.
Meanwhile, signs everywhere seemed to indicate the end of the world, as well as the arrival of an unstoppable monster known only as The Beast. As the sky rained fire, Cordy and Connor were driven into each other's arms. The gang's search for information on the mysterious Beast led revealed that he knew Angelus; desperate to learn more, they hired a shaman to temporarily remove Angel's soul, so that they could learn more of the connection between Angelus and The Beast. However, when the gang went to restore his soul, the container that housed it was missing. To help them capture Angelus, Wesley went to break Faith out of prison, and Fred called in Willow to restore Angel's soul.
Later, as the team realized that The Beast was working for someone else, but they were stunned to learn that the master of The Beast was Cordelia! She was also pregnant with Connor's child, and with his help, the "child" arrived before Angel could stop them. Cordy's daughter, Jasmine, sprang from her stomach full grown - a process that left Cordelia in a coma.
Jasmine spoke of love and peace and nearly everyone that saw her fell under her spell. However, Fred could see the truth: Jasmine was a monster, who devoured people. Fred was able to break Jasmine's hold over the gang, and they tried to stop her before she could take over the world. Ultimately, it was Connor who killed Jasmine; he had protected her because he wanted to believe what she said, but finally he could no longer deny that she was a lie.
As a "reward for ending world peace" - whatever kind of peace Jasmine would have brought - the gang was offered control of the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart. Though they all agreed it was a bad idea, they all went to tour the facility. Angel was going to turn it down, until he was shown a distraught Connor holding a store full of people hostage across town. He made a deal: he would take over the LA branch if they would give Connor a new life with no memory of him. The season ended with Connor eating dinner with his very normal family and discussing his options for college.
Although Angel has suffered unspeakably in his past and lost lovers that most would never find in a lifetime, he can look to the future with optimism. The vampire with a soul has friends who have become family, and he has learned that The Powers That Be have prophesized his full return to mortality once he has saved enough innocent life. The Gates of Hell are in constant danger of being opened, but humanity at least has a fighting chance with Angel as its guardian.