How Old is Angel?
It's not as easy an answer as you might think. Originally, I had discussed this in my Buffy Nitpicker's Guide, but decided it was worth a full page of its own.
Why is Angel's year of birth so hard to determine? We've basically been told straight out. Problem is, we've been told many different years...
Let's start from the beginning shall we? (A reasonable place, you must admit.) We learn in the Buffy episode titled, strangely enough, Angel that the eponymous character is 240 years old. Now this could be a round number right? But early in season two (I think it was Some Assembly Required, though possibly not) Angel states clearly that he is 241 years old. This can not be a round number, and it is repeated throughout the season. Thus, since season one occurred in the year 1997, Angel was born in 1757 or late 1756. So far, so consistent.
To further support this year as the year of Angel's birth, in Halloween Willow steals a book about Angel from Giles' library. In it, she and Buffy look at pictures of women Angel had consorted with in the past. One in particular had been with Angel in the year 1775, when he was still human. Willow says quite clearly, "Angel was 18, and still human." Note that she has the book about Angel in front of her so she is very unlikely to be wrong! Add this to the previous information and it seems very clear, yes? Angel was born in 1757 or, at the earliest, late 1756.
Now let's visit a certain episode containing flashbacks - namely Becoming, Part 1. In this episode, we see Angel meeting Darla for the first time, and her siring of him. It's rather a nice little scene (great to see Julie Benz back as Darla!) except for one thing: the date. The onscreen information lists this as taking place in "Galway, Ireland. 1753."
Hold on a minute - 1753? How can this be right? Even if (and this is so extremely unlikely, but just for the sake of argument) all the previous information referred to his age as a vampire, not as a person (meaning Willow was slightly mistaken in her reading), he would still have to have been sired in 1756 or 1757. Not 1753! Where did this date come from?
Note that the initial references are almost certainly referring to Angel's absolute age, not how long he had been a vampire. Buffy and Willow were looking for information on the kind of women Angel liked "when you were my age" (said Buffy to Angel). Not when he had been a vampire for 18 years! So not only did Joss apparently mix up Angel's birth year with his year of 'rebirth', but he was still off by 3 or 4 years!
However, when Cordelia states in Dear Boy that Angel is 248, he corrects her, saying he's 247. This coincides with the 1753 date (this is the year 2000) but refers to his age as a vampire - inconsistent with previous statements such as that of Willow in Halloween
To make the waters even cloudier, some American people got to see an Angel promo before the series began (I don't know how or where, but most websites seem to quote it so they've probably seen it - I only read the transcript in a British magazine called SFX. See the excellent Touched by Angel for a transcript on its main page). In this Angel says he was "born 244 years ago in Ireland". Oh boy.
Okay, let's establish something first. Season one of Angel coincides with season four of Buffy This is easy. Angel calls up Buffy in City of, a call she received in The Freshman. The Gem of Amara is found by Spike in The Harsh Light of Day and Buffy asks Oz to take it to Angel in LA. Sure enough, in In the Dark Oz and Spike show up in LA. Doyle gets a vision in The Bachelor Party, prompting Angel's appearance in Pangs and Buffy's subsequent appearance in I Will Remember You. Proof enough? Okay then.
Now, we know Buffy graduated with the class of '99 (Graduation Day, Part 2). That school year started back in Anne at the beginning of the season, obviously in 1998. So Some Assembly Required (at the beginning of junior year) took place two years prior to Angel's first season (and Buffy's fourth). This seems very clear - a time differential of almost exactly 2 years (give or take a couple weeks).
So how, in two years very nearly exactly, does Angel go from being 241 to being 244? This number puts his birthday not in 1757, but early 1756 (or late 1755) - a year earlier than before. It's madness! (Note that Angel claims in the promo that he was 27 when sired - just for reference...)
Now, The Prodigal gives us some explicit dates, which should solve the problem once and for all. Angel (it now appears) was born Liam, in the year 1727. Not only does this put his absolute age at 273 at the time of Dear Boy, when he claimed to be 247, but it makes him 26 (or possibly even 25!) when sired. The promo (referred to above) says he was 27!
What I mostly don't understand about this is: hasn't anyone else done the math here? How could Joss have messed up so obviously on this count? And why haven't I heard anyone else bringing this up? These are questions that need to be answered, but the most pressing one is still simply:
How old is Angel?