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What are your issues with Riley?

CharlieGunn1

Ready for battle...
Joined
Mar 8, 2017
Messages
282
Location
LA
Riley could have been fixed by the removal of his chip. He could have turned away from the pouty, "why can't Buffy love me" character we got in Season 5, we could have had a straight up good guy, out of his depth. But he would have been too much of a copy of Xander, without the ironic wit and sarcasm. He should have realized on his own that Buffy was beyond him, and that she would never truly get over Angel, and give her time to figure out who she was without him.

He's a prototypical college jock boyfriend...with only occasional flashes of changing.

I liked Riley a lot more then most, but honestly a lot of the things were shown about him never really work. Were told that he's a good' ol' farmboy from the Midwest, a cowboy with honor and respect and decency, but all of that is undercut in the moment he acknowledged for the first time that Buffy was 'stronger then him' and that he didn't think he could take her. Then he straight up says "give me time", Dude! Not cool to even joke about beating up your girlfriend! That part always makes me see red.

When he comes back in Season 6, it's only marginally better, but he still feels like a slightly less whiny version of himself.

Sometimes this show makes the most amazing characters, and sometimes we get Riley.
 

Bluebird

two by two, hands of blue
Joined
May 17, 2008
Messages
6,099
Black Thorn
Were told that he's a good' ol' farmboy from the Midwest, a cowboy with honor and respect and decency, but all of that is undercut in the moment he acknowledged for the first time that Buffy was 'stronger then him' and that he didn't think he could take her. Then he straight up says "give me time", Dude! Not cool to even joke about beating up your girlfriend! That part always makes me see red.
I don't think Riley was served well by the writing in season 5. He got progressively less likeable to the general audience.

That aspect and exploration of his character I really liked though. His idea of his role/image and his insecurities over his masculinity made him more human to me. I think that's why I like Xander so much. Insecurities of masculinity are an interesting subject to me. I like seeing how people deal with the societal norm and how they fit in it.
 

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
Joined
Jul 29, 2016
Messages
6,806
Age
28
I don't think Riley was served well by the writing in season 5. He got progressively less likeable to the general audience.

That aspect and exploration of his character I really liked though. His idea of his role/image and his insecurities over his masculinity made him more human to me. I think that's why I like Xander so much. Insecurities of masculinity are an interesting subject to me. I like seeing how people deal with the societal norm and how they fit in it.
Riley had even more pressure to be masculine than Xander did, not to mention that Spike was starting to sniff around Buffy so Riley had that to contend with.
 

Alara

Townie
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
11
Age
27
I've just re-watched As You Were and it got me thinking about the Finnster. I think we can all agree he's one of the weakest characters in the series, but what exactly is it that MAKES him so bad?

I personally don't hate Riley, I just find him boring and kinda annoying, but to my mind he could have been quite an interesting character, he was just underdeveloped.

I definitely think he's a victim of bad writing. Even in the show they take the piss out of it, calling him Captain Cardboard etc. But it's true! I was disappointed because I did want to like Riley - and there were some episodes/interactions where he was alright.

I think with him I had 3 main issues: 1. The way Marc Blucas chose to portray him, 2. The fact of him being underwritten - even in season 4 when he's meant to play a major role in Buffy's life/development, he is glazed over in favour of Spike, or Twillow, or Xandya (yeah, that's mine - deal with it! :p) 3. He wasn't Angel - a lot of people had a problem with him purely because he was Buffy's new beau, but wasn't Angel. I'm not sure if this was fair to our Riley.

Anyway, what do you guys think?
I think he just didn't quite fit into the Buffyverse much like Oz didn't quite fit. I was so glad when those two left the show. Everyone on the show had a quirkiness to them and always a good one-liner that both Oz and Riley just didn't master well. Even Angel who is mostly boring to me had some quips every now and then but Riley never did and Oz tried but failed miserably.
 

Puppet

Actual size.
Joined
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Messages
5,474
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30
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Denmark
Black Thorn
I tend to say I despise Riley when I haven't watched the show in a while, but tbh I like him a tiny bit more with every rewatch of S4, and then that gets utterly destroyed in S5 and I'm right back where I started; it's a cruel circle.

For me, it had nothing to do with him being a replacement Angel, since I was never a fan of Bangel. It was really all about Riley himself. As a character he was boring, and that's not what you want in a world of extraordinarily well-written and unique characters. One of the reasons BtVS is one of my all-time favorite shows is the complexity of each character and Riley just doesn't fit in that slot.

As someone once said, he's about as exciting as watching paint dry.

That being said, he does, admittedly, have his moments. My issues with him also stem from the fact that the writers didn't seem to be able to figure out exactly who he was, and it showed on screen. One moment he's one guy, next episode he's completely different, and then he bounces back yet again in the next episode. Really annoying and makes it difficult to appreciate his character.

My least favorite parts of his character's arc, from S4 to S6, is that he somehow had enough power over Buffy to make her feel like it was her fault that he cheated on her, put himself in danger (thus putting her family and friends in danger) and moving on from her too quickly for what he said was the love of his life...ass...
 

Athena

Has anyone seen my human vessel?
Staff member
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6,334
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UK
Black Thorn
I tend to say I despise Riley when I haven't watched the show in a while, but tbh I like him a tiny bit more with every rewatch of S4, and then that gets utterly destroyed in S5 and I'm right back where I started; it's a cruel circle.
Yes! Same here. You realise he's not so bad in S4 and then S5 comes around and he starts trying to control Buffy and slut-shaming her and I'm like.... "What happened to the sweet country boy from S4?!" :confused:
 

flow

Scooby
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
813
I always liked Riley. He wasn`t Mr. Right for Buffy but that doesn`t make him a bad guy at all.

Let me say this: In S7 Buffy asks Riley to help, with Spikes chip. There are options: repair the chip or remove the chip.

Riley doesn`t make the decision. He trusts Buffy enough to let her decide. And he does that even though he does not like Spike very much.

I think, that says a lot about what kind of man he really is.

Flow
 

Mr Trick

Scooby
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Messages
12,829
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39
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London, UK
I think the problem with him in S4 is him just being boring and not having enough to the character (also I don't think much to the performance) rather than the character being unlikable (there are times when he is still), but S5 and 6 do change that. He at no point had that same spark with Buffy/SMG that Angel or Spike had.
 

Mrs Gordo

Bangel extremist...
Joined
Jul 11, 2017
Messages
4,020
Location
Texas
Black Thorn
Issues with Riley:
1. He was written initially as an insufferably over the top stereotypical good guy. Who in the modern age of dating says things like "courting" or "say, how about that picnic". I understand he is from Iowa but is he also from the 1950's? I can only assume this was supposed to be over the top and annoying right? Were we supposed to swoon?

2. Riley has no personality, no inner struggles, no personal flaws outside of the issues and battles that he faces when dealing with Buffy and his relationship with her. He has no personal story arc that I am personally concerned with or invested in. Who are you Riley Finn?

3. He didn't recognize how out of character Faith in Buffy's body was acting. Even if if your mind doesn't automatically go to this isn't Buffy, why wouldn't you at least talk to her about how she is acting funny before sleeping with her?

4. Can I be extremely shallow and say he had horrible hair? Compared to Spike and Angel the other men in Buffy's life he is just not nearly as attractive.

5. He thought that Buffy slept with Angel when she went to go visit him during Sanctuary. I understand feeling insecure in that relationship but how could you think so little of Buffy to think she would cheat and betray you?

6. He blamed Buffy for letting Dracula bite her? Huh? I feel like Buffy was constantly apologizing to him and reassuring him. It must have been exhausting.

7. He felt so insecure in his own physical abilities compared to Buffy that he continued to poison himself to have super strength, that shows weak character.

8. When it became apparent that Buffy did not feel for him the way he wanted her to feel (some sort of desperate need?) he effectively cheated on her and then BLAMED her for it. No Riley, its not Buffy's fault that you decided to get sucked off by Vamps.

9. He gave Buffy, our heroine, our bad ass, a model of feminism, a freaking ultimatum. Pfft screw you Riley Finn. You don't do that to people you love and you certainly don't do it to my Buffy.

10. He comes back to Buffy, married, flirts with her, fails to tell her he is married until it is uncomfortable and awkward.

Those are some of my issues with Riley Finn.
 
K
katmobile
I wonder in a sense if getting blamed for Faith didn't set him up for blaming Buffy for Draco. If he unknowingly slept with the wrong woman and it was his fault that sets him up for not understanding Drac over rode Buffy's.

nina98

Did I get it?
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
34
Age
44
I like Riley. Mainly, I really wanted to see Buffy dealing with the challenges of having a human boyfriend, and the human boyfriend dealing with the challenges of having a slayer girlfriend. I wish the writers had explored this more and hadn't bailed on Riley so soon. It was a huge opportunity lost, given that he was her only lasting human boyfriend of the series.

In any case, what would have happened after The Gift? I can't see him dealing with being with someone who was dead for three months. So I think the breakup would have felt more natural and believable at the beginning of season 6, without having to come up with the contrived storyline they used to make us hate him in season 5.

Or, they could have had Glory kill him off near the end of season 5. When Buffy came back, there always would have been the question of whether she was with Riley in heaven. Food for thought.
 

brittles

Scooby
Joined
Nov 13, 2016
Messages
56
Sineya
i definitely agree that this character was waaaaay underwritten. I think I may be the only die hard Buffy fan who loves this character and I don't know why! I get it that yes sometimes he tends to be a very black and white thinker and doesn't really understand a lot of choices the scoobies make or why but I think people tend to forget that this guy is a "corn-fed Iowa boy" and maybe a bit naive to the ways of the buffyverse. I think he has good intentions but the way he goes about dealing with somethings comes off wrong to everyone else. I think he really does care for Buffy and when he can't reach her the more desperate and perhaps annoying he seems in trying to connect with her.
 

nawilko

Townie
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
2
Age
24
Location
Haverhill, MA
Riley's problem was bad writing and immaturity.

When he left the Initiative, and it was destroyed, he was left with nothing. Absolutely nothing. There's not even a hint of what he was doing in S5 whenever he wasn't onscreen. Maybe he took classes, but I doubt it. This is the fault of the writers. He had no school, no work- and he ultimately rejected a greater intimacy with Buffy's friends, instead falling back on the military. So instead he tries to make Buffy the center of his life.

This, obviously, fails, right from the start. Lots of military folks ask him what's keeping him there, besides her, and they're right, but Riley's too immature to realize that Buffy cannot be everything to him. That's absolutely not Buffy's fault.

He also, when first feeling that insecurity, decides not to talk with Buffy about it. I'm not counting "If you want to let me in, let me know." That's not talking, that's childish pique. I thought he was old enough and good enough and mature enough to talk about this stuff, but he isn't. Especially when he starts visiting Willy's dive and especially when he starts paying for suckjobs. Any mature man, secure in his identity, would talk about these things before it gets to implosion point.

The mature response isn't cheating and risking your life and then blaming it on her. The mature response isn't an ultimatum. The mature response isn't talking about your insecurity in your relationship with your sweetie's friend and not her. If she doesn't love you like you want, leave her!

But they always say Psych majors are there to figure out their own problems, right?
 

Anyanka Bunny Slayer

Evil hand issues💀
Joined
Dec 17, 2015
Messages
6,401
Black Thorn
I don't hate Riley, I just feel he was too insecure for Buffy. Giving her that ultimatum was totally lame; and him coming back with a wife was pretty low.

Also, Buffy belongs with Angel. 😆
 
K
katmobile
You were doing great until the Bangel crap kicked in

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
Joined
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Messages
6,806
Age
28
Riley displays a lot of controlling behaviour when it comes to Buffy. Buffy vs Dracula particularly displays what a dickhead of a boyfriend he is. He rains on Buffy's parade when she is excitedly telling Giles about meeting Dracula and then he blames her for letting Dracula bite her (saying it was "transference") even though Buffy specifically says she tried to resist. He also has a preoccupation with wanting Buffy to "need" him and then gets pissy because she doesn't. As soon as Riley didn't have the power dynamic over Buffy (both within the Initiative and as the TA) was when his behaviour towards her started to deteriorate.

On a side note, how crap were the initiative at their job. They go out into town and capture unsuspecting vampires and demons who were just minding their own business, yet Sunday and her gang remained undetected on campus for years. In fact the remaining member of Sunday's gang only got caught when he was trying to leave campus.
 

HisMrs

The Walking BED
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Sineya
In any case, what would have happened after The Gift? I can't see him dealing with being with someone who was dead for three months. So I think the breakup would have felt more natural and believable at the beginning of season 6, without having to come up with the contrived storyline they used to make us hate him in season 5.

Oooh, good point. I would have loved to see how Riley dealt with Buffy's death in "The Gift"!! And I totally agree that if they were going to have Riley break up with Buffy, it would have made way more sense to do it that way. But I honestly think Joss just loved James Marsters so much he wanted to do anything to bring him back, including destroying Riley as a character. Poor Marc Blucas.
 

katmobile

Scooby
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Messages
635
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47
I don't have a problem with Riley, I like the good guy thing. Marc Blucas was Joss' first choice and I don't think it's his acting. There just isn't a lot of character development and they don't give him much to do. I think Marc Blucas does a good job when he has something to do and plays the boy next door thing well. My problem is that other than being Buffy's boyfriend and conflicted about being a soldier, he doesn't contribute much more to the group and I don't really care for what he does do. But I'm not hating on Riley like most people do. Sometimes he's Captain Cardboard but not always.
I'm not sure about Blucas but Christian Kane (aka Lindsay) auditioned for the role I wonder if I'd have liked Riley if Kane had played him even if it is (although not exclusively as the think Kane is a good actor) for very shallow reasons.
 

Heljar

Townie
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Aug 6, 2019
Messages
15
Age
44
I never liked Riley. I cheered when he left Buffy in seasons 5. But there was just something off about him, but I can't really pinpoint what. Maybe it was bad writing or bad acting or both, but I don't think he really fit into the Buffyverse. Xander is the comic sidekick, Willow was the timid nerdy girl with an intersting character arc. Riley just wasn't a very interesting character. Yes he was in a secret government branch, but he was basically the same person in commando-gear and not. His friends was jocky fratboys I never liked. I just never liked Riley. It was a smart thing to write him out of the show.
 

Fuffy Baith

2017 (and 2016) Cutest BB member
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Sineya
I'm not sure about Blucas but Christian Kane (aka Lindsay) auditioned for the role I wonder if I'd have liked Riley if Kane had played him even if it is (although not exclusively as the think Kane is a good actor) for very shallow reasons.
I prefer him in the Lindsey role. I just think for what they wanted Riley to be, Marc Blucas was fine, but couldn't really do more than nice wholesome guy. Kane is the better actor so maybe he could have made Riley a better character, but then he wouldn't have been Lindsey. So, I think it all worked out, Riley just needed better writing. That's just my opinion.
 
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