The rumour goes that Emma Caulfield was brought in for a single appearance in Marti Noxon's “The Wish”, playing a 'vengeance demon' named Anya who grants Cordelia's wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, with the writers having no plans to bring her back. If that's true, she can probably thank Alyson Hannigan, whose performance as Vampire Willow was strong enough to suggest a sequel, “Doppelgängland”. After that, Anya slowly became a regular, entering into a relationship with Xander and getting used to, and involved in, human life.
Human life? Well, up there with Darla and Dawn for complex back-stories, the character was actually born human in 860 AD in Scandinavia as Aud. Wreaking vengeance on her lover Olaf leads her to D'Hoffryn, a demon who transforms Aud into Anyanka, a 'vengeance demon' who spends a thousand years wreaking vengeance on behalf of scorned women. The wish she grants Cordelia backfires, leaving her returned to human form in Sunnydale, a high school girl with the name Anya. As the series progresses, she falls in love and gets engaged to Xander. His decision to leave her at the altar makes her return to the vengeance fold, until she becomes human once again, regretting an act of vengeance she's committed against a group of frat boys (the manner in which D'Hoffryn appears able to transform Anya from human to demon and back again is never explained). Finally, she participates in the battle in series finale “Chosen”, only to die a particularly brutal death at the hands of one of the Turok-Han.
Anya appears in 81 episodes across five seasons. Her per-season word count arcs, starting at a mere 1265 words in season three, climbing to 2692 words (and a number seven finish) in season four and 4998 words (number seven again) in season five, reaching a high of 8502 words in season six (and remarkably a number four finish) before dropping down to 5836 words in (the character-heavy) season seven (where she still finished number five).
Of Anya's 81 appearances, 52 are minor (and interestingly for a casted character, there are several episodes, including three in the final season, where she appears only in the opening credits). However, she ranks #2 three times and #1 four times. Never ranking above number three in seasons three or four, Anya gets her first number one in “Triangle”, a humorous, if slightly out-of-character, episode revolving around the aggression that exists between Anya and Willow. She speaks 1056 words of this very wordy episode (its 5116 words are the highest in the whole series).
Season six, definitely Anya's peak, features three number-twos and two number-ones. Her number-two in “Bargaining, Part Two” is suspect, in that my word-count for that episode is problematically low. Though not at all an 'Anya episode', “Doublemeat Palace” features Anya preparing for her wedding and in dialogue with Halfrek, giving her a #2 finish of 547 words (tied exactly with Willow). Her significant role in the Dawn episode “Older and Far Away” gives her 598 words and a #2 finish, yet Anya reaches her absolute peak soon after that, with two number-one finishes separated only by “Normal Again”, an episode she intriguingly doesn't appear in at all. “Hell's Bells” is the episode of her would-be wedding, where Xander leaves her. Her excellent performance is good for 818 words and a number-one finish. “Entropy” features Anya seeking someone to allow her to grant vengeance on Xander, and ends up with her sleeping with Spike. Her 1101 words, almost 25% of the whole episode, is her highest word count, higher even than season seven's “Selfless”, an Anya episode par excellence, where she speaks 1020 words, including 206 words in Old Norse as Aud, 137 words in revolutionary St. Petersburg, and 254 words spoken and sung during a flashback to the circumstances of “Once More With Feeling”.
- Overall ranking: #12
- Ranking on Buffy: #6
- Total words spoken on Buffy: 23,293
- Season 3: 1265
- Season 4: 2692
- Season 5: 4998
- Season 6: 8502
- Season 7: 5836
- Total speaking appearances on Buffy: 81
- Ranking #1: 4
- Ranking #2: 3
- Ranking #3: 8
- Ranking #4: 6
- Ranking #5: 8
- Minor: 52