Buffy Character: Anne Steele | Julia Lee

Anne Steele (born Joan Appleby and also formerly known as Sister Sunshine, Chanterelle, and Lily Houston) was a recurring character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its sister show, Angel. She first appeared in “Lie to Me”, the seventh episode of the second season. Her last appearance came in “Not Fade Away”, the series finale of Angel.

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Anne ran away from home at a young age. She stopped using her original name, Joan Appleby, instead using various assumed names. As a teenage runaway, she became part of a cult whose leader gave her the name Sister Sunshine. By the time of her first appearance, she has left this organization and no longer goes by Sister Sunshine.

In “Lie to Me”

Anne’s first appearance in the Buffyverse came in the seventh episode of the second season, “Lie to Me”. In this episode, she is using the name Chanterelle and is part of another cult-like group that worships vampires (or, as she calls them, the Lonely Ones) as higher beings that wish no harm to human beings, being offended when Angel calls her “a fool” for this.

She and her friends in the group, which is centered on a club called the Sunset Club, dress in imitation of their romanticized ideas of what vampires look like an attempt to conduct a ritual in which they will be “blessed” by vampires and “ascend to a higher level of consciousness”.

Though this results in her being attacked and bitten by Spike, she narrowly escapes death thanks to Buffy’s help.

In “Anne”

Anne’s second appearance comes in the season three opener, of which she is the title character. She encounters Buffy again while the latter is working in Helen’s Kitchen in LA. She has stopped using the name Chanterelle and now goes by Lily Houston. Now a homeless drifter, she has found love in Rickie, a fellow homeless teenager.

After a discussion with Buffy about their old lives back in Sunnydale, Buffy gives her some money that she can spend with Rickie. The next day, Lily goes to Buffy to tell her that Ricky is missing; it later turns out that he is dead, news which devastates Lily.

On the streets later, she runs into a man named Ken. He persuades her to come to the Family Home, a shelter for homeless teenagers, by telling her that Rickie is there.

There he has her change clothes to take part in a ‘cleansing ceremony’ in a pool of water. Buffy arrives and tries to stop this, but both girls fall into the pool, which is actually a portal to another dimension where they are told that they will be used as slave laborers.

They manage to escape, however, and before leaving LA, Buffy leaves Lily her apartment, job at Helen’s Kitchen, and the name she had been using while working there: Anne.

In “Blood Money”

In her next appearance, she is using the name Anne Steele. Inspired by her previous experiences, she is now the director of the East Hills Teen Center, a charity and shelter for homeless teens in LA.

Angel bumps into her in the street, apparently by accident. However, it later turns out that he planned the encounter in order to steal her wallet. He has been investigating her for a while and has several photographs of her, including some with Lindsey.

Suspicious of her, Angel visits her at the shelter to ask her about her relationship with the demonic law firm Wolfram and Hart, Lindsey’s employer. She tells him that as she is in need of money to keep the center’s doors open, she has entered into an agreement with them whereby they will raise funds for the center and provide legal defense for some of the shelter’s teen residents.

She also tells him that they are planning a major fundraising event called the Highway Robbery Ball.

Later Angel takes some of Cordelia’s old clothes to the center as a pretext for visiting Anne. There, he warns her that Wolfram and Hart are not what they say they are and that the center is unlikely to receive much of the money they promised from the big fundraiser. Lindsey arrives and tries to reassure her, but she is still concerned by what Angel told her.

When Angel returns to the shelter later, Anne tells him that she’s worked out that she’s a vampire though, to Angel’s surprise, she isn’t concerned by this. She tells him that she “used to think vampires were the coolest”.

Angel again tries to convince her not to allow Wolfram and Hart to hold the fundraiser, telling her that 95% of the money raised is likely to be used by them for evil purposes. Anne replies that even if she only gets 5%, she needs that money for her center and refuses to help Angel infiltrate the fundraiser to expose Wolfram and Hart’s true colors.

Anne changes her mind at some point, however, agreeing to play a tape incriminating Wolfram and Hart at the fundraising ball. When it is later revealed afterward that Angel had never intended to expose Wolfram and Hart but merely to embarrass them, Anne is outraged.

The money, which has been stolen by Boone, is gone so she risked everything for no gain. Angel retorts that the money was obtained by immoral means and leaves.

At the end of the episode, however, he brings her the money, which he has recovered, and warns her that she should make sure Wolfram and Hart don’t find out she has it. She asks him what the liquid on the bills is and when he tells her it’s blood, she replies “It’ll wash”.

In “The Thin Dead Line”

In this episode, Anne is still running her shelter for homeless teens. Two scared teenagers arrive, pleading to be let in. She is initially reluctant to let them in, as it’s past curfew and there are no more beds, but their visible terror and their feeling that something is chasing them causes her to relent.

They explain that they were viciously attacked by police officers for no reason and that the same has been happening to numerous other street kids.

Anne decides to go to Angel Investigations for help. There she meets Gunn, who she already knew from his days as a homeless teenager. He accompanies her back to the shelter and questions the teens who were attacked by cops.

It later turns out that the cops are zombies and Anne assists in defending the shelter when the zombie cops come to attack it.

In “Not Fade Away”

In Anne’s final appearance, she is still running the shelter. She encounters Gunn, who asks how she’s doing; she tells him the center’s doing fairly well, having received some donated furniture.

He then asks her what she’d do if she knew that none of what she does matters or helps because the world is controlled by beings who don’t care. She replies “I’d get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here”, displaying her resolution in the face of the impossible.

Personality / Traits

Early on, Anne shows a strong naivete and seems to be easily led. This can be seen in her joining two cults, the one led by the “loser preacher” that she was part of before her first appearance and then the vampire worshipping group centered around the Sunset Club.

In her later appearances, compassion is one of Anne’s defining characteristics. She finds her calling in life when she becomes the director of a homeless shelter for runaway teens in LA and does everything she can to provide for them. This dedication causes a problem when she accepts help from Wolfram and Hart.

She is also notably less naive than in her earlier appearances; she does not immediately believe whatever she is told, adopting a harder, skeptical attitude. Beneath this, however, compassion is still her guiding motivation. She even risks her life for the shelter when it’s attacked by zombie police officers.

She also expresses considerable determination – even when Gunn puts it to her that everything she’s doing might be pointless, she doesn’t hesitate in telling him that she intends to continue doing it.


Anne is a slender, pretty, young caucasian woman with long, blonde hair. In this respect, she shares a lot of physical characteristics with Buffy herself. However, her appearance undergoes several changes throughout her various appearances on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

In her first appearance, she is part of a vampire worshipping group and dresses like a stereotypical vampire, complete with a choker and vampire-style makeup.

When she next appears in “Anne” she looks worn down by life on the streets, but still wears makeup, particularly heavy eyeliner. In her later appearances, she appears cleaner, healthier, and more mature, reflecting her growth as a person and her new role as a person of responsibility.

In her second appearance in the episode “Anne”, she shows Buffy a prominent tattoo on her forearm. It is half a heart with ‘Rickie’, her boyfriend’s name, written on it. Rickie has a similar tattoo; a half heart with the name Lily (the name Anne was using at the time) written on it. Together they form a whole heart and symbolize the love between the pair of them.

However, neither this tattoo nor any marks that might indicate its removal can be seen in her subsequent appearances. This suggests that this might be a continuity error – the writers simply forgot about her tattoo.

Powers / Abilities

Anne is a human being who does not have any magical or supernatural powers. Nevertheless, she demonstrates remarkable courage at several points.

For instance, she is willing to cross Wolfram and Hart to help expose their evil activities and isn’t too afraid to hide money that was stolen from them. She also displays physical courage when she organizes and participates in the defense of her homeless shelter from zombie police officers.


Friends At The Sunset Club

In Anne’s first appearance she is part of a group that worships vampires, centered on the Sunset Club. She is friends with some of the other members of this group, including Billy Fordham (also known as Ford) and Marvin (also known as Diego).

Ford is the leader of the group, with Chanterelle (as Anne is then calling herself) and Diego taking a subordinate role and not being fully aware of what Ford is planning to begin with. She appears to trust Ford completely and is eager to go along with his plan, really believing that she will be turned into a vampire rather than just killed.

She appears to have slightly less respect for Diego than for Ford. This can be seen from the fact that she smiles when Buffy makes fun of his outfit.

The Scooby Gang

Anne first encounters the Scooby Gang in her first appearance, when she is using the name Chanterelle and is part of the vampire worshipping group centered around the Sunset Club. She attempts to persuade them that vampires (or “the Lonely Ones”, as she prefers to call them) are higher beings that mean no harm to humanity.

She is unsuccessful and meets reactions of confusion (for instance from Xander, who says that they usually call vampires “the nasty, pointy, bitey ones”) and disdain (from Angel, who simply tells her that she’s “a fool”).

This last reaction clearly annoys her, and she defensively tells Angel to consider that “Other viewpoints than yours may be valid”. However, Buffy later saves her life from Spike and his vampire minions, thus showing her that she was wrong to trust and idolize vampires.

She encounters Buffy again during the events of the opening episode of season 3, “Anne”. Buffy is working in a restaurant in LA called Helen’s Kitchen and Anne, (then calling herself Lily) comes in as a customer with her boyfriend Rickie (see below).

When Rickie goes missing, Buffy helps her to investigate his disappearance. When Buffy discovers that Rickie is dead, she is the one to inform Lily. Distraught, she blames Buffy for his death due to her association with demons and monsters. However, Buffy saves her again later in the episode.

When the pair of them are taken to the same hell dimension that Rickie was enslaved in, they manage to kill the demon that had kidnapped them and escape. Afterward, she asks Buffy “can I be Anne?” (Anne being Buffy’s middle name and the name that she was using while living in LA). Buffy agrees and leaves Lily her apartment, job, and identity.

Rickie Thomas

Rickie is the boyfriend that Anne (then using the name Lily) finds in LA. He, in fact, is the one who chose the name (Lily tells Buffy that the name is “from a song”).

The pair of them are both homeless drifters and have nothing in life but each other. Nevertheless, they seem happy together and are clearly comfortable in displaying their romantic affection for each other (which causes Buffy to be visibly uncomfortable when she encounters them).

Their romance has a tragic end, however: Rickie is kidnapped into a hell dimension and enslaved. Time moves more quickly there than on Earth and when Rickie is returned to Earth (after very little Earth time but many decades in the time of the hell dimension), he is a broken, elderly man who commits suicide by drinking drain cleaner – he is only identifiable by his tattoo that forms a whole when paired with Lily’s.

Kids At The Shelter

In her later appearances, Anne runs a homeless shelter for teens in LA. She treats them in a stern but maternal manner and is clearly deeply invested in their wellbeing.

She is initially wary when they report being brutalized by police officers, suspecting that they might not have been as innocent as they claim, but is soon persuaded and seeks the help of Angel Investigations in getting to the bottom of it.


They first meet offscreen, but Anne knows Gunn from his days as a street kid in LA, though the exact circumstances of their meeting are unclear. They meet for the first time onscreen when she enlists the help of Angel Investigations, of which Gunn has become a member, in looking into a series of brutal attacks by police officers on some of the teens at her shelter.

Her last appearance is a chance encounter with Gunn, in which he helps her load a truck. He asks her what she would do if she knew that all her efforts to do the right thing were in vain and she replies that she would “get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here”, demonstrating her resolve. Gunn, clearly pleased by this, smiles.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2

  • Episode 7 “Lie to Me” (first appearance)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3

  • Episode 1 “Anne”

Angel Season 2

  • Episode 12 “Blood Money”
  • Episode 14 “The Thin Dead Line”

Angel Season 5

  • Episode 22 “Not Fade Away” (last appearance)

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