WARNING: SPOILERS. ESPECIALLY DOLLHOUSE. DOLLHOUSE COMES LAST AND I SPOILED THE SHIT OUT OF JUST ABOUT EVERY MAJOR PLOTLINE.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
David Boreanaz as AngelThe epitome of "minor character that rose above the protagonist," best evidenced by the fact that they created an entire show for him. I think the big draws to Angel were his ambiguity as a not quite reformed evil, and of course his forbidden romance with Buffy. There is nothing quite as alluring as love that is so strong and so unique that it has to be hidden and restrained, and Buffy's and Angel's relationship was exactly that. It helped that Boreanaz played the character so perfectly that audiences couldn't help but fall in love with him and his colored and romantic past.
James Marsters as SpikeSpike also rose above the popularity of Buffy, but for different reasons than Angel, namely that he was fucking hilarious. Bringing him on for the fifth season of Angel was the best decision Whedon ever made if only for one line, "you're a wee little puppet man!" I loved that Spike had a writer in him if not a good one, and that deep down he was a hopeless romantic. (And William the Bloody is the coolest nickname ever.) More than any character Spike reminded me of myself.
Nicholas Brendon as Xander HarrisHonestly I think that Buffy was my least favorite character on the show that bore her name, but that didn't make the show any less enjoyable because there were so many fun characters around her. Xander was the king of the brutally honest, often awfully self-depreciating one liner. "Ooo, gang, did you hear that? A bonus day of class plus Cordelia, mix in a little rectal surgery and it's my best day ever."
Alyson Hannigan as Willow RosenbergEveryone loves the cute little girl that is a bundle of cheer and needs to be protected which is why everyone loves Kaylee from Firefly. That Willow grew into a force on her own (and fostered a malevolent side) made her infinitely more interesting. Come on, evil Willow was hot... Bored now...
Emma Caulfield as AnyaAnya was smoking hot...and hilarious. I loved her devastatingly honest assessment of certain situations and her horrible fear of bunnies. "All I'm saying is soulless Spike would have had me upside down and halfway to happy-land by now"
Eliza Dushku as FaithFaith was everything that Buffy wasn't, hot, kick-ass, and a little crazy. I love dark characters that have trouble getting out of the way of themselves and their own inner demons and Faith was exactly that...in spades.
Juliet Landau as DrusillaDid I mention I like crazy characters? Drusilla was batshit insane and the cockney accent drives my loins bonkers. She was always the most frightening character to me because she was the most unpredictable.
Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-PryceA far cry from the nerdy out-of-his-league watcher he was on Buffy, Wesley in Angel was tough, often conflicted, and by the end, perhaps irreparably damaged. One of the things that I liked about Wesley was that he had such a difficult time navigating the treacherous path of his own morality. He never seemed sure of himself, but he knew that he had to take action and would have to live with the consequences. His introduction on Angel, bursting in with a leather trenchcoat and crossbow is one of the most badass first scenes ever.
Amy Acker as Winifred Burkle/IllyriaAww Fred. See Willow, Kaylee, etc. Amy Acker is so insanely talented, and her portrayal of evil characters Illyria, Clyde Randolph (Dollhouse), and Kelly Peyton (Alias) is nothing short of chilling. She both amazes and terrifies me.
Andy Hallet as Lorne (RIP)I loved Lorne, one of the few truly good characters on Angel. Perhaps good isn't even the right word. Though Lorne helped Angel, I think he was above good and evil. His bar, Caritas, open to all comers was the perfect illustration of that. It's too bad it got destroyed repeatedly, and that an untainted life was not in the cards for Lorne.
Christian Kane as Lindsey MacDonaldThere is something to be said for characters that don't care which side they're on so long as it's the winning side. Some people find them utterly distasteful and a special kind of spineless, but I see them as virtuosos, working tirelessly to manipulate life so that it always comes out in their favor. Plus he's pretty damn hot.
Sarah Thompson as EveEve was such a cunt, but an entertaining one. Her evil nature combined with her not-so-subtle innuendos towards Angel made her deliciously disgusting and her ten episodes very impactful.
Glenn Quinn as Allen Doyle (RIP)Oh Doyle, he left us too quickly.
Joss Whedon as NumfarNumfar! Do the dance of joy!
Alan Tudyk as Hoban WashburneAlan Tudyk is a joy to watch no matter what he does. Playing a goofy character is so perfect for him because he looks like he would be that guy in real life (and from what I can tell is). The best thing about Wash was that he was the least serious character off the job on Firefly, and the most serious on. I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.
Adam Baldwin as Jayne CobbThe hero of Canton, the man they call...Jayne! Adam Baldwin is one of the most dedicated and most brilliant actors working today. Much of the Jayne character was his own creation and it made the character that much more lovable on screen. "She is startin' to damage my calm."
Jewell Staite as Kaywinnet Lee FryeThere's something about the cute little girl that needs protectin' isn't there? Even better if she has a not-so-subtle and quite powerful sexuality and she's the ship's mechanic. How can you not love Kaylee? Come on, she ain't had nothin' twixt her nethers that weren't run on batteries goin' on a year now!
Ron Glass as Shepherd BookBook was one of the more interesting characters because of what we didn't know about him, and sadly what has only been explained in comic book form. There is something about a character with a past that draws us in and makes us eager to know more, especially if they're a religious man who isn't above shooting kneecaps.
Summer Glau as River TamNo one plays crazy like Summer Glau plays crazy. I love duality, and I love irony, and there is something delicious about the smallest female character being not only the most dangerous, but also the most powerful.
Miracle Laurie as November/MellieI'll admit that part of the reason I loved Mellie is because I was ridiculously attracted to her. Okay, more than part. I always felt that while Dollhouse might have been the weakest of Whedon's shows character-wise, it was the strongest plot-wise and I loved how characters could turn on a dime and end up being something completely different than what everyone expected.
Fran Kranz as Topher BrinkTopher was my favorite character and he uttered my favorite line in the entire show, "you tricked my penis." There was something so endearing about Topher, the way he was like a little kid approaching everything with childish glee, and something so sad in how he wound up being the most destructive force and bearing the biggest burdens. Poor Topher.
Olivia Williams as Adelle DewittAdelle reminded me a lot of Lindsey in Angel, especially early since it seemed she would do whatever it took, would play on either side to ensure that she was always on top. It was very gratifying to find out that she was both far smarter, and far more altruistic than anyone realized.
Amy Acker as Whiskey/Claire Saunders/Clyde RandolphWatching through the series a second time it's amazing how perfectly and subtlely wooden her dialogue is as Whiskey masquarading as Dr. Saunders. Just subtle enough so you can't tell she's a doll when watching the show for the first time, and yet so obvious when watching it a second. Amy Acker legitimately frightens me.
Alan Tudyk as Alpha"I'm not bluffing...well I am...but the rest of us are serious!" "It spoke to the schizophrenic in me...well...both of them." There is something so enjoyable about watching Alan Tudyk whether he's playing with dinosaurs or cutting up the faces of innocents. I love dark, dirty, disgusting, reprehensible characters that serve a noble purpose and Alpha did exactly that.
Summer Glau as Bennett HalversonNobody plays crazy like Summer Glau plays crazy.