Faith (Buffyverse)

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Character
Name: Faith, sometimes Faith Lehane
Occupation: Slayer
Title/Rank:
Location: Sunnydale & LA
Status: alive
Relationships: Robin Wood (partner); Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (watcher); Angel (role model)
Fandom: Buffyverse
Other:
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Faith is a secondary character in the Buffyverse who is a vampire slayer. Introduced in Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 3, she becomes a recurring character in both BtVS and Angel, and is also a comics character. She survived seven years without a surname, but was dubbed Lehane by Whedon after the television canon was closed. She's played by Eliza Dushku.

Canon

What are you gonna do, B, kill me? You become me. You're not ready for that, yet.

—Faith in "Enemies"

Faith is introduced as the replacement slayer for Kendra. Characterised as the anti-Buffy – sensual & out of control – she swiftly turns dark, kills someone accidentally, teams up with the season's Big Bad, kills someone deliberately, and winds up in a Buffy-induced coma. She awakes in time to bodyswap with Buffy, create mayhem, get set on the path of atonement by Angel, and wind up in jail. Sprung from jail to deal with an Angelus problem, she returns to the Sunnydale fold towards the end of BtVS to train potentials.

Faith has a one-night stand with Xander, flirts with Spike & has sex with Riley while in Buffy's body,[1] and has a relationship with Robin Wood. She idolises Angel, despite a history of trying to murder him, but has tricky relationships with her numerous victims, including her former watcher & torturee Wesley, Xander and Cordelia.

Fannish Opinion

In the third season of the show, a character named Faith arrived on the scene and shook things up, both on the show and in the fandom. Faith's feelings towards Buffy, so ambiguous on the show, were made more concrete in fanfiction. Although there was Buffy femslash before the arrival of Faith(the Buffy/Willow shippers, Kate Bolin's "The Human Drama" series), Faith was undoubtedly the catalyst for the rise of Buffy femslash. (SapphicSlayer archive)[2]
For some time, the title of the “Faith” forum on Television Without Pity has been “Mmm...Faith.” This visceral reaction is typical of many Faith fans, and no essay would be complete without addressing the “hotness” factor. Eliza Dushku is physically attractive, a quality capitalized on by dressing her character in revealing clothing and giving her sexually suggestive dialogue. For some, “teh pretty” is enough.

I want to go further, however. I believe the character deserves more. For many of us, it’s the complicated mental and emotional swings and the redemptive arc of this character that make her interesting.

From the beginning, Faith has possessed the lure of the Bad Girl. She was clearly created as a foil for Buffy, dark where Buffy is light, wild where Buffy is controlled. In some ways, Faith is a precursor to the Wishverse. She is a way to explore an AU Slayer while remaining in canon. She is the Road Not Taken. (nikitangel)[3]
Faith confused me because I couldn't figure out what trope her character was based on. You know, like Buffy's the Hero. Willow's the Sidekick. Xander's the Funny Guy or Everyman. Giles is the Mentor. Etc. Faith? Yeah, no clue. So I only was able to "get" her as she related to Buffy. She represented Buffy's "shadow self" (a role that Spike would later play). Beyond that...no clue.

But then, in class today, it kinda hit me that I was looking in the wrong place. Because Faith's character isn't based on a standard genre trope. It's a more mainstream trope. She's the Troubled Teen. ...

Faith comes from an underprivileged background, an unstable family life, and possibly a history of sexual abuse of some sort. Then she gets some Slayer powers and, wow! She has a place. A purpose. And a Watcher to provide some stability. So, yeah, Faith digs the Slayer thing. ...

Faith doesn't concern herself with saving others because, frankly, she's out for herself. And that sounds selfish, but it's a necessary survival mechanism that she's learned. She never had the time to worry about others because she expended all her time and energy on making sure she made it through to the next day. (gabrielleabelle)[4]
...However, these characters lack something Faith has: a third wave view of gender and sexuality. Yes, I am arguing that Faith is a riot grrrl. ...

We’ll start with sex-positivity. She has it. Faith is proud of her sexuality and unashamed of the fact that she not only enjoys sex, but enjoys it outside of the context of a monogamous relationship. ...

The characters themselves seem to dislike her in part because to someone raised in a patriarchal and heteronormative society, Faith’s actions send mixed gender signals. She presents herself in a sexually expressive manner that marks her as feminine. She shows off her body, and the men of the Buffyverse take notice. However, her clothing and mannerisms also mark her as strong and as tough, and therefore masculine. She is sexually aggressive and confident, also masculine traits. The Scoobies probably can’t handle this overload of gender role mixing. Faith, on the other hand, rejects a universal notion of femininity. In terms of ideal gender stereotypes, Faith does what she wants. ...

I find it interesting that the show’s title character, the character meant to represent third wave feminist ideals, is not in fact the most feminist character on the show. I think that the position, whether you agree or not, belongs to Faith Lehane, the damaged rogue who constantly comments on how slaying makes her hungry and horny, who breaks out of prison to save the world, who stops those slayers who actually are sociopaths, and who embarks on a mission to return a life. (Riot Grrrl Forever)[5]

Fandom

Faith is a very popular character, with many fans attracted by her hotness, her wit, her poorly concealed vulnerability, her pairability especially in femslash, the wild ride of her plot line in canon and especially her redemptive arc. She's the Little Black (Leather) Dress of the Buffyverse, and appears in pairings with virtually everyone. The SapphicSlayer archive credits her appearance[6] as being the catalyst for the rise of Buffy femslash.[2] She's a bit of a marmite character: some fans attack her, particularly for her canonical treatment of Buffy. She perhaps suffers from being the final nail in the coffin of the canonical Buffy/Angel relationship.

The surname issue – in television canon she's never given one – got a lot of discussion at the height of fandom. Some fans liked the anonymity & rootlessness this gave the character compared with Buffy's supportive blood/chosen family; nikitangel describes Faith's lack of surname as a narrative device that leaves the character incredibly isolated and without the family support system Buffy has and makes for herself. Faith-centric stories that invented a surname for her ("Jones" was one example) were sometimes poorly reviewed. Whedon dubbed her "Lehane" in 2005, several years after television canon closed; the name has generally been accepted as a tagging device but has been slow to be accepted in other contexts.

Faith is highly popular in fanworks, especially considering her relative lack of screentime.[7] Some Faith-centric fanfiction goes in for Buffy bashing. Most fanfiction is relationship centric, both femslash & het, and explicit works are common. Buffy/Faith is her most popular pairing, building on their complex history as well as perceived canonical attraction, but she's also paired with Cordelia, Dawn, Tara, Willow and many others. Faith/Wesley is one of the most common het pairings, again building on their complex shared history; Giles/Faith is a minor pairing that's increased in popularity with the comics. Other fairly common male partners include Angel and Xander. She's a frequent crossover partner, too – Victoria P states she slides into nearly any fandom and sparks with almost everyone[8] – especially with Supernatural where she's often paired with Dean Winchester. Eliza Dushku also stars in Dollhouse and Tru Calling, and there are occasional same-actor crossovers. Faith even pops up in RPF.

Faith-centric gen fanfiction is relatively rare. Her experiences in prison are one popular topic, as is her adjustment to life after prison. She sometimes features in teamfic ensembles drawn from both Angel Investigations and the post-"Chosen" Slayers.

She's a fairly popular subject for fan art, being drawn in realistic fashion based on Dushku and in both Western & chibi cartoon styles. Action portraits are common and various weapons, especially the knife given to her by the Mayor, are often included even in non-action portraits. She's frequently portrayed in a bright-red crop top and her tattoo is often shown. As with most Buffyverse characters, manips are a particularly common type of art. Faith is also a common subject for vids.

Topics in meta include Faith's background, especially the possibility of sexual abuse; her treatment of & by the Scoobies, especially Buffy; parallels with other characters, from Buffy to Warren;[9] her sexuality; and her canonical redemptive arc. In broader fandom, she's often referenced in discussions of slut shaming.

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanfiction

Fan Art

A selection of fan art portraying Faith:

Vids

  • Superstar by here's luck. Amathela describes it as an excellent Faith character study as well as being a fascinating look at her relationship with Buffy.[11] (2003)

Meta

Archives, Fansites & Communities

YahooGroups

LiveJournals

References

  1. Her antics with Spike are sometimes credited with kickstarting the entire Spuffy arc
  2. 2.0 2.1 SapphicSlayer: Intro (accessed 19 September 2014)
  3. idol-reflection: Pretty, Dark Hair, Kills Things (part 1) (accessed 19 September 2014)
  4. gabrielleabelle: All My Faith (accessed 20 September 2014)
  5. riotgrrrlforever: Have Some Faith: Buffy’s Rogue Slayer, Personality, and Riot Grrrl (accessed 20 September 2014)
  6. "Faith, Hope & Trick" first aired in October 1998
  7. Based on Wikipedia cast lists, Faith appears in 20/144 BtVS & 6/110 AtS episodes
  8. Comment by musesfool dated 5 November 2007 to spnroundtable: ask the author (accessed 19 September 2014)
  9. itsnotmymind: Warren Mears (accessed 20 September 2014)
  10. Better Buffy Fiction Archive: Rowan (accessed 27 April 2012)
  11. amathela's Happy IDF: Vid Recs, dated July 20, 2008; WebCite