In Defense of Riley Finn

Context: While playing a game with friends, Buffy the Vampire Slayer came up in a few contexts. At one point, Angel was mentioned, and people were a little groany about him. I said that I never really liked Angel and someone asked, “So you prefer her with Spike?” My reply was, “Actually, I like Riley,” to which the response was an aghast “who are you?”  I feel compelled to expound on this matter. Who I am is someone who feels the world needs more heroes.

We seem to regard the dark and brooding as sexy and mysterious.  It has become an archetype to which many of our generation aspire.  But I suspect that, in the majority of cases, this is artifice.  Is this unfair of me to say?  Whether I am wrong or not, what purpose does an internalized negative attitude serve? Surely I make allowances for people who truly are troubled, but this nevertheless is a increasingly common façade through which feelings characteristic of the whole of humankind are filtered.

What occurs when such discontent finds a different outlet, when the negative attitude turns from internal to external?  This aggressive sort is alluring by the appearance of strength and promise of danger.  But what is so wrong with good intentions?  What is so wrong with a positive attitude?  I have  felt the anger and the pain, just like everyone else, and I tried internalizing and externalizing it. It got me nothing but some ugly evidence and 5+ years behind in my life. I don’t want brooding and I don’t want anger.  They are no longer compelling.

So in this time and place when/where this submersion in negativity is self-absorbed—wallowing in the same pain as everyone else—we need more people who are willing to think of others.  We need those looking out for others in need.  We need people to demonstrate that positivity is not intrinsically antiquated.  We need people with manners and courtesy.  We need people who are willing to sacrifice, even just a little. We need heroes.


  1. Mom says:

    Wow. Bandwagon. Jump on. Donate to your local Relay for Life, a community fund raiser for the American Cancer Society. Every chance I get, Kiddo.

  2. In general, my message is: “Stop being pissed, start being nice.”

  3. Loricious says:

    I’m a Spike fan. Totally dig the blondes with attitudes. Just my thing. My proof lies in the husband.

    Didn’t mind Riley, didn’t love him either.

    I’m at odds with your post, both in agreeing and in disagreement.

    There is nothing wrong with having a positive attitude…nothing at all. That’s just it, though, isn’t it? I tend to believe that human beings are drawn to the forbidden, and that desire lies within our own deepest, darkest, primal emotions. Things that are “naughty” are different. Different engages the curiosity in me. While Riley was a great dude, still with issues, but started out having that “go get ’em” attitude, it wasn’t…what, abnormal? Naughty? Even when he went to the vamps to be naughty, it didn’t grasp me as Spike’s naughtiness did.

    Being normal doesn’t capture my imagination because I live in normality. Does that make sense? And further, is that so bad? To be attracted to the forbidden, or to a darker side of life?

    I don’t think so. You seem to have moved beyond this urge/attraction to the dark and mysterious. That’s fab, truly. And it isn’t bad to enter a phase in your life where you crave a positive hero, a Superman, instead of the Batman’s in the world.

    That’s fair.

    Oddly enough, I can’t stand Batman. Superman was always my hero. And the Flash, cuz he’s funny.

    But Spike will always be my big piece of evil full fat cheesecake, more than the granola Riley or the devil’s food cake of an Angel.

    Maybe its his awesome British accent, in which case that would make him a scone. Or a crumpet.
    Mmm. Crumpet.

  4. I like Spike a lot. But I wouldn’t want to date him. That’s the argument: Who is better in a relationship. I’m not moved beyond this attraction, I just know it sucks. It sucks just as much to be that way yourself. Most of the time it’s fake and a pain. It may work in fiction, but in reality it’s a drain on you.

  5. Loricious says:

    In that case, I agree. Its nice to watch other people go through the drama of dating angst-ridden bad mamajammas, but I’m so glad I’m really vanilla.

    Buffy never had a good, meaningful relationship with the undead. The sweetest one was with Riley, before he went nuts.

  6. Anne says:

    Ladies, please join my new fictional committee: Ms. Valliant’s for a More Civilized World. Meetings will include tea.
    Positive presentation doesn’t mean a lack on some inner negativety. It just means that you don’t broadcast it like its cool or something, because its really just a bummer and not much fun to be around. Hell, the dark brooding thing only works for a 10 minute converation in the real world, and then its very boring. But it works on TV.
    Anyway, I always liked Riley, but then I’ve always liked a man in uniform. I think it was growing up near the Naval Academy.
    And Riley would be apple pie 🙂

  7. Yeah…uniforms…
    He’s also the beefiest.
    “Did you see his arms? Those are arms to have.”

  8. Loricious says:

    Much better than granola.


    mmmm, apple pie… a la mode…

  9. steelbuddha says:

    Riley rules. The bad-boy antihero is cliché. The good guy who slips is much more interesting to me.