Buffy Character: Anya Jenkins | Emma Caulfield

Anya Jenkins was a main character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and one of the members of the Scooby Gang. She was originally introduced in Season 3 as Anyanka, the vengeance demon.

Although her first appearance was as a minor antagonist, Anya teamed up with the Scooby Gang and became one of the series’ protagonists over the course of her recurring appearances. 

She came to Sunnydale to grant a wish for Cordelia Chase and curse Xander Harris, but was defeated by Rupert Giles, who stripped her of her vengeance demon powers and turned her mortal.

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She then eventually befriended the Scooby Gang, worked at the Magic Box, and had a relationship with Xander, the man she was sent to punish.

Anya was killed during the Battle of the Hellmouth in the show’s final episode in 2003.

Appearance

When Anyanka first arrived at Sunnydale High, she disguised herself as Anya Jenkins, a high school student. Initially, Anya spent time with Cordelia and other popular girls and modeled her appearance off of them. She wore similar outfits to the rest of the popular girls, and had shoulder-length brown hair.

This appearance changed fairly quickly, however, and continued to evolve throughout the show’s run.

After being revealed as a vengeance demon, having her powers stripped away by Giles, and becoming mortal, Anya changed her style from what it was before.

Instead of wearing clothes that would appease the popular crowd, Anya tended to favor cardigans and vintage outfits. Her hair changed length and color over time, going from long, straight, and dark brown, to short blonde curls. 

When in her vengeance demon form, Anyanka’s skin changes, becoming mottled and burned-looking. Her eyes become set deep into her head, and her brow bone pushes forward in a similar way to a vampire’s.

However, the remainder of her stays the same, and she maintains her hairstyle and outfit. This appearance only seems to change when Anya is granting a vengeful wish, and she was able to disguise herself before granting Cordelia’s wish and after her powers are returned to her.

Personality

Anya was known for her direct manner of speaking and frequently rude phrasing, which made her unpopular among the Scooby Gang. Her slightly robotic and inhuman reactions come as a result of her new mortality, after spending over 1000 years as a vengeance demon.

Her tactless and honest personality often upsets or angers other characters, and she is known for somehow always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. 

While Anya initially treats the Scooby Gang with disdain and occasional malice, she eventually warms up to them – a change that becomes mutual as she is accepted into the gang.

As Anya spends more time with the Scoobys, she becomes more caring and develops friendships with the other characters. Although she still has a propensity for being callous and sarcastic, Anya loses her old desire for vengeance and violence while pursuing a more regular life as a mortal.

Apart from having poor social skills, Anya also has several other recurring characteristics that are referenced or revealed throughout the show.

After starting her employment at The Magic Box, Anya develops an obsession with wealth and greed, often considering the shop’s and her own money as having more importance than her friend’s safety.

This love of wealth made her a great businesswoman, and her entrepreneurship helps business at The Magic Box grow during Giles’ absence.

Anya also has a notable fear of rabbits, a fact which is brought up at several points in the show. After being told to wear a costume on Halloween, Anya dresses up as a bunny. She also accidentally summons a group of rabbits after losing her memory, and subsequently terrifies herself.

When Sunnydale is cursed with relentless singing and dancing in Once More With Feeling (the show’s musical episode), Anya blames rabbits. She sings: “I’ve got a feeling/It could be bunnies!”.

While dating Xander, Anya loses her hatred for men and becomes caring (though she is still rude and critical). When Xander leaves her at the altar, Anya returns to her life as a vengeance demon.

However, she no longer has the same conviction with her vengeance, and is therefore seen as weak and a pushover. While she is no longer a human during this time, she maintained her humanity and the complex emotions she had developed.

Biography

Life as Aud and Anyanka

Anya was originally known as Aud, a Swedish girl born in 860 AD. She raised rabbits in her village and was shunned due to her direct and often rude way of speaking.

She fell in love with the Viking warrior Olaf, but after he cheated on her by sleeping with a barmaid, she became enraged and cursed him.

After turning Olaf into a troll, Aud was approached by the demon D’Hoffryn, who offers to make her a vengeance demon. Aud accepts, and becomes Anyanka, the ‘Patron Saint of Scorned Women’. 

Anyanka traveled around the world, using the Symbol of Anyanka (an amulet, and the source of her power) to grant the wishes of hurt and vengeful women and curse the men who wronged them.

When Anya’s powers are returned to her, she has less passion for enacting vengeance. After being labeled a pushover by other demons, Anya turned a man into a worm-like demon at his girlfriend’s request.

However, Xander convinced her to undo the spell. D’Hoffryn punished her for this by removing her ability to teleport. Spurred on by this and encouraged by Halfrek, Anya murders a fraternity of students.

Afterward, she is disgusted and horrified by her actions. She asked D’Hoffryn to undo what she had done and offered her life in exchange for the students’, but he instead killed Halfrek and turned her back into a human to suffer with her guilt.

Sunnydale High

Anyanka traveled to Sunnydale in 1998, and enrolled in Sunnydale High School under the name ‘Anya Jenkins’. She became friends with Cordelia Chase, who had recently been cheated on by her boyfriend Xander Harris.

Anya then manipulated Cordelia in order to coerce a wish out of her, and therefore punish Xander for hurting her. Cordelia wishes that “Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale”. 

Anya fulfills this wish, transporting Cordelia to an alternate reality Sunnydale without the Slayer. She is rescued when Giles, after figuring out her true identity, destroys the amulet and turns Anya mortal.

Anya tries to get her powers returned to her by D’Hoffryn, but he refuses as she had failed to properly punish Xander. 

Trapped as a mortal, Anya tried to get her powers back by tricking Willow into helping her with magic. Anya tries to get her amulet from the alternative Sunnydale made by Cordelia’s wish, but is once again foiled. Now stuck in a mortal body without any powers, Anya continued to stay at Sunnyvale High.

The Magic Box

After Giles was fired from the Watcher’s Council and became the owner of The Magic Box, he employed Anya to work at the shop. While there, she developed a keen interest in the shop’s finances and became infatuated with money.

Her employment (and the paychecks it included) made Anya much more materialistic, and she would often remark on an object’s cost or value. Her interest in money and eye for detail lead to Giles putting her in charge of the shop’s finances.

While Giles was away from Sunnydale, Anya was left in charge of The Magic Box. At one point during Giles’ absence, she and Willow accidentally released Olaf (the Viking Troll and Anya’s former lover).

Anya and Willow worked together to banish Olaf, which helped break down the barrier between them. In Giles’ absence, Anya put her entrepreneur skills to work, greatly improving The Magic Box’s profits, and getting more money through online trading. 

Her newfound wealth meant that she and Xander could afford a house together, as well as adding more fuel to her obsession with money. Even after Giles returned, Anya maintained a lot of control over The Magic Box.

Relationship with Xander

After failing to punish Xander for cheating on Cordelia and having her powers stripped away, Anya began to warm up to the Scooby Gang. While she still harbored a deep hatred for all men, Anya became disappointed with having no one to take her to prom. 

She approached Xander to ask him, as he didn’t have a date either. While Xander agreed, he didn’t spend much of the prom with her as she kept reminiscing about her days as a vengeance demon and the men she killed.

Although they shared a dance together, Xander didn’t really express much interest in Anya. Despite this, Anya started to develop an attraction to Xander, and began to pursue her feelings for him.

When the Mayor of Sunnydale was about to destroy the town, Anya asked Xander to leave Sunnydale with her. However, he refused to leave the rest of the Scooby Gang, and Anya left alone.

When she returned to Sunnydale after several months, Anya still had feelings for Xander. She approached him while naked to seduce him, hoping to get him ‘out of her system’. However, when she realized that she still had feelings for Xander after having sex, they began dating.

Over the course of their relationship, Anya began to change her behavior towards the others. She became less aloof and selfless, often putting herself in harm’s way to protect Xander or the other Scoobys.

Although she maintained her brutal honesty and frank way of speaking, Anya tried to be more caring. 

When the gang were being attacked by a poltergeist, Anya risked life and injury to rescue Xander. She also saved other characters’ lives, like Dawn and Andrew. This made her a more trustworthy person to the rest of the crew, particularly Willow and Giles who were distrustful of an ex-demon.

Anya’s matter-of-fact honesty also extended into the relationship. She would occasionally say something that hurt Xander’s feelings unintentionally. She would also frequently casually talk about their sex life in front of the rest of the Scooby Gang, much to their distaste.

Anya was one of the catalysts for Xander moving out of his parent’s basement after she became frustrated with staying there. This caused them to move in together into their own place. 

Anya and Xander’s relationship went through several turbulent moments over its course. 

During Hush, Anya is worried that Xander doesn’t really love her, and is only interested in her for sex. However, when Xander thinks Spike is attacking her and tackles him, Anya realizes that he truly does care about her.

After Xander doesn’t have sex with her one night, Anya concludes that they are breaking up. While Xander disputed this, he got jealous when Anya started to have a conversation with Spike.

This led to an argument between the two, and they broke up. However, this breakup only lasted a short while before Anya realized her mistake and the two reconciled.

Before the fight against Glory, Xander proposed to Anya. Anya accepted, and the two agreed to get married if they both survived the fight. While they both lived, Xander was reluctant to announce their engagement so soon after Buffy’s death.

This self-doubt of Xander’s affected their relationship several times, and eventually caused its end.

After having sex with Anya, she mentioned the possibility of children. This panicked Xander, who was still young and had no interest in children yet. Anya’s many plans for the future also concerned Xander, as well as her excitement about their wedding.

Xander repeatedly expressed reservations about the wedding and was less involved than Anya in the preparations.

On the day of Anya and Xander’s wedding, Stuart Burns (one of Anya’s former victims) attacked the group. He showed Xander a fake vision of the future where he and Anya were deeply unhappy to try and manipulate him.

Despite Buffy defeating Stuart, Xander gave into his misgivings and left Anya at the altar. 

After being abandoned by Xander, a heartbroken Anya was approached by D’Hoffryn. D’Hoffryn offered Anya her life as a vengeance demon back. Anya, who was blinded by anger and pain, agreed.

After being turned back into a vengeance demon, Anya tried to seek her own revenge on Xander. As she was unable to cast a vengeance wish for herself, she tried to manipulate Spike into cursing Xander for her.

She tried to get him drunk to do this; however, they bonded over both being outsiders to the group, and had a one-night stand in The Magic Box. 

Unbeknownst to them, they were caught on the hidden cameras in the shop, and were seen by Xander, Willow and Buffy. Xander confronted them, angry, and Spike tried to cast a vengeance wish against him.

However, Anya stopped him. After D’Hoffryn turned her back into a human, she rejoined the Scooby Gang.

While Xander and Anya had a few more flings after that, they never truly reconciled and got back together. After Anya’s death at the Battle at the Hellmouth, Xander tried to find her but missed her body.

Andrew comforted Xander after they escaped, informing him that she died to save his life. Xander remarks: “That’s my girl. Always doing the stupid thing”.

This, along with his efforts to find her, shows that he still had feelings for her until the end.

Relationships with Other Characters

Despite her relationship with Xander, Anya was frequently regarded with distrust or annoyance by the rest of the Scooby Gang. Her blunt personality was often a source of arguments with the Gang, and her seemingly uncaring nature and tendency to say inappropriate things would frequently upset or anger others. 

Willow and Giles particularly held a mistrust of Anya. Her status as an ex-vengeance demon meant that they didn’t believe she had changed her ways. However, Anya repeatedly tried to prove herself to the rest of the Scooby Gang, and she was eventually accepted as a member of the group.

Willow also didn’t like Anya due to her proximity to Xander. Willow was protective of him, and was worried that Anya would curse him or cause him harm. However, after Xander saved them both from Olaf and Anya offered to die to spare Xander’s life, Anya and Willow began to trust each other more.

Giles and Anya initially had a more rocky relationship born from his distrust of demons and Anya’s rudeness. After a while, however, the two grew closer. Giles reluctantly agreed to employ Anya at The Magic Box, where they continued to bond. Although they continued to argue, Giles eventually became a father figure to Anya.

While they were both members of the Scooby Gang, Anya and Buffy didn’t really get along smoothly. As the Slayer, Buffy’s duty was to kill demons. In fact, after Anya regains her powers and kills 12 students, Buffy resolves to go kill her.

Xander ends up stopping her, and the two characters maintain a cordial enough relationship. Despite Buffy’s misgivings, she still asks Anya to help babysit Dawn.

Although Anya’s poor social skills made it difficult for her to communicate, she still expressed her fondness for other characters. This is most notable in The Body, when Anya breaks down in tears due to her difficulty processing Joyce’s death.

Despite the tumultuous relationship she had with Xander and the rest of the crew, Anya remained a key member of the Scooby Gang until her death at The Battle at the Hellmouth.

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Marianne LeBlanc
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