From the first time we meet Max and Liz in the Crashdown, Roswell makes us care about the teens at the center of the alien love story. Each character, whether you love them or love to hate them, brings something special to the story and makes us care. We selected our favorite moments for each series regular in honor of the 20th anniversary of Roswell.
Max Evans (Jason Behr)
Max — the mysterious alien who started it all by saving Liz’s life. He can be aloof and authoritative, always worrying about whether their family’s secret will be revealed. But his soft side is on display when he and Liz are together. As he learns to trust her, he becomes a heroic protagonist and more of a regular teen than when we first meet him. The best character moment for him comes in “The End of the World,” in which the future version of Max returns to convince present-day Liz to break present-day Max’s heart in order to change the future and save the world. Behr has to play both Future Max and Present Max, both of whom have huge emotional arcs in the episode. We see Future Max’s self-sacrifice as he lets go of the life he had with Future Liz in order to save the world. We also see his vulnerability as Present Max turns to Tess for comfort when Present Liz purposefully rejects him. It’s a great performance by Jason Behr and a showcase for the character Max. It ends with a breathtaking dance between Future Max and Present Liz to “I Shall Believe” by Sheryl Crow, a defining moment of the series.
Kyle Valenti (Nick Wechsler)
Kyle Valenti, the Sheriff’s son, starts off as the resident bad boy, Liz’s ex-boyfriend, and a threat to her romance with Max. But as time goes on, Kyle becomes more entwined with the aliens, especially when new alien arrival Tess moves in with him and his dad, and Kyle finds himself falling in love. Kyle is often the comic relief and fits well in that role, but it’s his emotional side that makes him such an interesting character. The best Kyle moment comes in the episode “How the Other Half Lives,” which sees Kyle and Alex (Colin Hanks) trapped in an underground cave after trying to help the aliens find extraterrestrial crystals. Kyle has only recently become a part of the group that knows about the aliens, and his sarcasm as he copes with this new knowledge is hilarious. Kyle and Alex also manage to save the world, completely by accident. If you didn’t love Kyle before this episode, there’s no way you don’t love him as he says, “I was wondering what the hell you people were doing sophomore year” as he searches for the alien crystals. It’s a moment of levity in an otherwise heavy episode and features Kyle and Alex belting “American Pie,” which is worthy of its own mention.
Tess Harding (Emilie de Ravin)
Tess is possibly the most hated (or misunderstood?) character in Roswell. Her arrival in season one prompted outrage from fans as she came between Max and Liz. Tess is the only one of the four aliens to remember their lives before arriving in Roswell, and this adds to her drive to get home at all costs. Some see her as a villain, but Tess can also be sympathetic. We watch her struggle to understand humanity and deal with Max’s rejection after she risks everything to bring them together. Tess, like Kyle, can also be funny. She has some of the best comeback lines on the show. Her sexy playfulness contrasts with Liz’s quiet loyalty. Tess’ best moment is also her last. After having left Earth with Max’s baby in “The Departure,” Tess doesn’t make another appearance until the series’ penultimate episode “Four Aliens and a Baby.” Tess risks returning to Roswell with her and Max’s baby Zan, who is revealed to be fully human and not the alien Tess assumed he would be. She must confront the rest of the aliens and humans she left behind after killing Alex, leading to emotional fights. The group decides to vote on whether to kill Tess for Alex’s murder. They end up voting to spare her life when Liz votes for Tess. Tess decides to save the group by sacrificing herself, enlisting Liz’s help as she blows up the FBI compound (and herself in the process). It is a fitting end for Tess since she ultimately saves the group and keeps her son safe despite her other mistakes.
Alex Whitman (Colin Hanks)
Before the whole “aliens are among us” began, it was just three best friends: Liz, Maria, and Alex. Alex was the last person in their group to find out the truth about Max, Isabel, and Michael’s true lineage. He was a witty, smart, sweet, and caring person that got along with everyone he interacted with. Oh yeah, and he had a significant crush on Isabel Evans.
Some of his best moments in the series would have to include when Max got injured in a car accident. They have to use human male blood, so no one finds out that Max is an alien. Alex, even though frustrated with not being told why, lets Liz use his blood without knowing the truth, because he wants to help his friend. Alex’s funniest moment was deciding to do a striptease for Isabel at her birthday party, only to discover her mother was there. He quickly grabs the clothes, says hi, and runs out of the room. Unfortunately, his heartbreaking death is a part of that. In the season two episode “Cry Your Name,” the group finds out that Alex died due to a car accident. It is revealed later that he died because of Tess and her mind-warping power. Alex does make a few more appearances in the series, but only as a figment in Isabel’s mind.
Maria DeLuca (Majandra Delfino)
Jaded, new age, romantic, and realistic. Those are the words to describe Maria. She worked at the Crashdown Café and was there the day Liz was shot and healed by Max, eventually finding out the truth. She has a complicated on-again, off-again relationship with Michael, but out of everyone in their tight-knit group, Maria is the one who understands him the best.
In the early episodes of the series, Maria DeLuca tries to get her budding relationship with Michael to emulate that of Max and Liz. She wants romance and loses sight of who Michael is. From knowing the aliens and everything they go through — alien or human — it brings out a more confident version of Maria. In the second season, watching her sing was breathtaking. Delfino has a beautiful voice that I am glad they let shine in Maria as well. Watching Maria sing “Amazing Grace” to her best friend’s Alex casket was a knife to the heart, given the reality of the situation. Spiraling, she distances herself away from the group and focuses on music and living a safe life. In the end, she realizes that her life is with her friends and the love she has for Michael.
Isabel Evans (Katherine Heigl)
Seen as popular and beautiful, yet cold-hearted by her classmates, Isabel is very outgoing and involved. Throughout the series, she does a lot of growing up and has one of the most recognizable character developments in the three seasons. Isabel transforms through the show. In season one, she is a prissy high schooler. Next season sees Isabel gaining perspective on life and her reality. In the final season, she is an adult and married.
Isabel’s birthday, where she has flashes of Tess hurt called “Surprise,” is a fan-favorite episode. She goes up against Congresswoman Whitaker who is a Skin, an enemy alien, and learns that her real name is Valandra. That knowledge where she could betray her family comes back to haunt her when they go up against the Skins again. This time, though, Max hears and eventually learns the truth. Isabel shows how smart she is with taking extra classes so that she could graduate a year early, and she wants to leave Roswell for college. That causes a rift between her, Max, and Michael, because they forbid her from going. Isabel has fallen in love and marries Jesse, an associate at her dad’s law firm, without much support from her family. There is even a moment where it looks as though she may die when she gets shot on a failed rescue. Thanks to quick thinking from Jesse, Michael, and Valenti, Isabel survives and is forced to tell her husband everything. Isabel’s marriage hits a rough patch, but the love she shares with Jesse is what helps her when she has to let him go in the series finale.
Michael Guerin (Brendan Fehr)
When the series first begins, Michael is standoffish and snarky to everyone except Max and Isabel and only interested in finding out about his alien origins. But as the series progresses, he slowly falls in love with Maria, comes to accept that Earth is his true home, and grudgingly makes room in his life for the humans that know the truth about the three aliens. We get glimpses behind the emotional walls he built to protect himself from his abusive foster father and chances to see how much he really cares.
For me, the episode where Michael really shows how much he cares about people “Michael, The Guys And The Great Snapple Capper.” Michael gets a second job as a security guard working the graveyard shift, so that Maria doesn’t have to keep paying for the pair of them when they go out. It doesn’t take Michael long to corrupt the other four guys on his shift, quickly leading to them all being fired due to theft of peach Snapple (which Michael stole). It takes a conversation with Max for Michael to realize his coworkers are actually his friends, and that he cares about them. He realizes he feels guilty when he learns that one of his coworkers has a wife and kids. He does everything he can to get everyone their jobs back, including breaking and entering multiple times, returning the stolen goods, and ultimately spying on his ex-boss to get proof of him stealing. Michael manages to get them all their jobs back, and makes plans to spend time with “Steve,” the person with a wife and kids outside of work.
Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler)
The Sheriff is suspicious of Max after the shootout that takes place in the “Crashdown” during the pilot. He spends the first season trying to understand how Liz survived the shooting and the level of Max’s involvement. At the end of the first season, he comes to Max’s rescue after he’s been kidnapped by the FBI and witnesses Michael’s alien powers firsthand.
The final episode of season, “Destiny,” is where the Sheriff’s changing opinion of Max and the others really solidifies. After a second run in with “Agent Pierce” of the FBI, the Sheriff’s son Kyle is shot. Max heals him and a grateful Sheriff Valenti promises to always be there to help Max and the others when they need it.
Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby)
We are shown the Roswell world through Liz’s view point through most of the series, as she narrates her diary for us in each episode. From the very moment she finds out Max’s secret, there is a bond created between them that nothing they face can truly break, whether they are together as a couple or dating other people. Liz is always willing to do anything she can to help Max and the others, no matter the cost to herself.
The episode where it really stands out how far she is willing to go and how much she is willing to risk to help Max is “Busted.” During the episode, we see that Max and Liz have reconciled and are closer than ever. When Max receives a vision from his son that he needs Max, Liz doesn’t hesitate to help him try to get to “Antar,” where his ailing son is. In an effort to help Max reach a ship to help him travel to Antar, they stage a robbery of a convenience store. They are both arrested after fleeing the scene, and Liz is identified by a witness as she was holding the gun on the clerk in the store. Max’s parents manage to get him out of jail, but Liz is kept there until Max gets involved to get her released. Once free, Liz’s father forbids her to see Max again, because he’s trouble for her. She defies him constantly to see Max.
Who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments below!