Buffy Character: Xander Harris | Nicholas Brendon

Xander Harris is an iconic character within the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He manages to brighten every brush with death with a sarcastic, charming and witty comment, and has truly won the hearts of so many Buffy enthusiasts.

His incredibly empathetic and compassionate nature, coupled with his numerous insecurities and fears, makes Xander a character that we can all relate to. To understand more about him, and his great role within the series, check out the information below. 

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Biography

Early Life 

Xander was born and bred in Sunnydale, California, raised by his parents Jessica and Anthony Harris. His relationship with his parents was a rocky one, which often strayed into abuse territory.

Anthony, who was an alcoholic, and Jessica, who struggled with her own problems, often neglected Xander and caused him to develop a number of insecurities.

His parents became known for being disruptive people thanks to instances such as them causing a drunken scene at Willow’s Bat Mitzvah. 

His friendship with Willow was a long-lasting one, beginning from early childhood. The two even ‘dated’ for a brief time when they were five years old, however, Willow developed an intense crush on Xander which continued throughout high school.

Although, Xander generally never reciprocated these feelings, and loved Willow in a purely platonic way. The two went on to bond over their hate of their classmate Cordelia, and formed a ‘We Hate Cordelia’ club. 

Xander was also well known to have many fears and difficulties which started in early childhood. For instance, his intense fear of clowns, which resurfed throughout the series, started as a consequence of being chased by a clown that his parents hired on his sixth birthday.

Likewise, Xander’s struggles with academics were noticed at a young age, when he was tested for a learning disability. However, his parents were told that there was nothing wrong with him. 

Buffy 

Xander met Buffy as soon as she arrived at Sunnydale Highschool. He quickly became involved in her Slayer work when he accidentally overheard a conversation between Buffy and GIles in the library. Soon after, himself and Willow became active fighters against the evil that arose in Sunnydale.

After killing vampires with buffy, one of whom was Xander’s close friend Jesse McNally, and attempting to stop the Master, the group began calling themselves the Scooby Gang. 

With Buffy as the Slayer, Giles as the Watcher, and Willow as the intelligent sidekick whose research and computer literacy consistently helped the gang fight evil, Xander often wondered about his place within the group.

However, Xander became known for being able to face his fears, his protective nature, and, most importantly, his ability to provide comic relief in even the most dire of situations. 

However, Xander was also known for his undiminishing romantic love for Buffy, which developed from the moment he met her. This crush has been at the center of many of the battles the group have faced.

For example, when Xander was seduced by a teacher, Miss French, who was actually a giant Praying Mantis who enjoyed eating male virgins, his desire for Buffy only waived for a brief moment.

When he arrived at Miss French’s house and was given a sedative by the creature, he realized his true love was Buffy, and wanted to leave.

However, this realization was cut short when Miss French revealed her true self and her real aims. Though, Buffy soon came to Xander’s rescue, and his admiration of her only grew from here. 

His feelings for Buffy did sometimes result in dangerous circumstances. When Xander was possessed by the spirit of a hyena, his teenage obsession turned violent.

Although he returned to normal, and his young crush took hold again, he still often became frustrated and angry with Buffy’s other love interests. For instance, his hatred of Angel only grew throughout his time in the Scooby Gang, and often encouraged Buffy to kill him, regardless of the fact that Angel often helped the team. 

Moving on

As Xander progressed through Sunnydale Highschool, his crush on Buffy seemed to diminish. In fact, Xander began to show admiration for other students. For instance, when a foreign exchange student, Ampata Gutierrez, came to stay with Buffy, Xander fell for her.

However, when he realized that she wasn’t a student, but rather an Inca Mummy in disguise, he quickly had to get over his crush in order to save Willow’s life. 

Although, it wasn’t long before Xander developed feelings for another student, Cordelia Chase. When Xander was transformed into a soldier on Halloween, due to a spell which turned halloween goers into the personalities associated with their costumes, Xander and Cordelia kissed.

This transpired into a secret relationship, which eventually threatened Xander’s relationship with Willow, as she felt betrayed and upset. Cordelia’s friends also didn’t respond very well once they found out about her relationship with Xander, which led Cordelia to break up with Xander. 

Hurt by her breaking up with him, Xander responded by attempting to place a love spell on Cordelia. However, this backfired, and resulted in every female in Sunnydale becoming obsessed with Xander, all except Cordelia.

During this time, Xander even rejected advances from Buffy. Once he managed to break the spell, Cordelia decided to get back together with Xander, this time not in secret. 

Xander was not only moving on from Buffy during this time, but had also started to move on from his past insecurities. He became more vocal and willing to take part in things at school.

He actually went on to join the swim team, in order to gain inside information on some seemingly random deaths. To do so, he even had to wear small red Speedos. He found that the team were becoming fish-like monsters due to performance-enhancing drugs.

Luckily, Xander and the Scooby Gang got to the bottom of the mystery before Xander himself turned into such a monster. 

Xander became more confident in himself and started becoming more vocal within the Scooby Gang. In particular, he often opposed plans which included Angel, that is, unless those plans involved killing Angel.

In fact, he often encouraged Buffy to kill Angel, especially after Angel lost his soul again, and attacked Xander, Willow, Kendra Young, Giles, and killed Jenny Calendar. Buffy ended up following his advice, and sent Angel to hell. 

Buffy’s Disappearance 

When Buffy returned to her final year at Sunnydale High after running away, Xander argued that she had been selfish. Whilst Buffy was gone, Xander, Willow and Oz, Willow’s new boyfriend, had to take fighting vampires and demons into their own hands.

Xander became further frustrated with Buffy when he found out that Buffy was keeping Angel’s return from hell, and the fact that she still had feelings for him, a secret.

Xander plotted to kill Angel, by convincing Faith Lehane, another Slayer, to help. However, Xander had to accept Angel as a member of the team after he saved Willow. 

Secret Affairs 

At this time, despite their other halves, Xander and Willow began a secret affair. When a vicious vampire, Spike, kidnapped Xander and Willow, their affair became apparent.

In fact, it resulted in Cordelia becoming dangerously injured when she and Oz caught Xander and Willow kissing. In turn, Cordelia ended her relationship with Xander. 

This event went on to change Xander’s life catastrophically. Due to Cordelia’s anger at the situation, a vengeance demon, Anyanka, arrived in Sunnydale Highschool. Though, Anyanka failed to cause any real havoc, and was turned into a human with no occult powers.

Rather, Xander’s attempts to prove Cordelia wrong resulted in a whole lot of dangerous activities. He ended up adventuring with zombies and losing his virginity to Faith, who was a lot more violent than the group had realized.

She attempted to strangle him, after he tried to confront her due to the fact that she refused to be accountable for a murder she committed, but he was saved by Angel. 

Sunnydale Highschool prom was a busy time for Xander. In addition to helping Cordelia with her prom dress, due to her family’s financial difficulties, he was also asked to go to the prom by Anya.

Although, love interests were the least of his concerns, as Mayor Watkins and his vampires had devised a plan to take over Sunnydale. Xander led the fight against the Mayor, stepping up into his role of commander within the Scooby Gang.

When the group became victorious, Xander responded with his classic, charming wit, by concluding that the best part of it all, was the fact that Sunnydale Highschool had been destroyed. 

After Highschool  

Unlike the rest of the Scooby Gang, Xander chose not to enroll in UC Sunnydale after high school. Instead, he decided to go on a road trip. However, this trip didn’t live up to his expectations, and he was only able to travel as far as Oxnard.

He ended up returning to Sunnydale and moving into his parents’ basement. 

Though he continued to see the gang often, and helped them fight demons, he had a separate life from them, as he had to take on a series of jobs to make money.

These jobs did sometimes result in chaos, such as when his work as a bartender resulted in him serving a cursed beer. Likewise, his work on a construction site resulted in him being attacked by a vengeful spirit, which infected him with syphilis, malaria and smallpox. 

Xander surprisingly began dating Anya after returning to Sunnydale. Though this relationship was casual in the beginning, he went on to grow serious feelings for her.

However, his relationship with the rest of the Scooby Gang seemed to falter at this time, due to him feeling insecure about his life path.

As his friends went to college, Xander felt left behind. This was actually used against him by Spike, in order to separate the Scooby Gang.

Though, Anya helped him feel better about this insecurity, convincing him to reunite with the guys and defeat the evil vampire who had tried to distance them. In doing so, Xander embodied the ‘heart’ of the team in a spell. 

This wasn’t the only time that Xander had to fight his inner demons in order to best real demons.

During an instance in which the First Slayer attacked the Scooby Gang in their dreams, Xander had to overcome the difficult aspects of his life, such as his insecurities and terrible parental relationships, his relationship with Buffy, and his relationship with Anya.

Although, this isn’t to say that Xander had defeated his insecurities once and for all. 

Maturity 

Once Xander began to take himself more seriously, his relationship with Anya became more serious. When Xander was attacked by the demon Toth, he was split into two versions of himself, one which manifested all of Xander’s strengths, and one which manifested all of his weaknesses.

Once he was turned back into his one self, Xander found a power in understanding that his ambitious doppelganger was actually inside him this whole time. 

He carried on showing this maturity when he confronted Buffy about how she was treating her boyfriend, Riley. He also portrayed this in his own relationship with Anya, by showing her his appreciation for her.

Though, this isn’t to say that their relationship was easy. For instance, Anya’s ex boyfriend and troll, Olaf, was summoned and attempted to cause havoc in Sunnydale.

However, Xander and Anya triumphed, and Xander went on to ask Anya to marry him. In fact, Xander was saved by Anya when they became injured due to the events caused by the evil god Glory. 

Buffy’s Death 

After Buffy’s death, Xander hesitantly helped with Willow’s plan to resurrect her. He also helped look after Dawn, Buffy’s sister, whilst she was gone.

When Buffy was struggling to reintegrate herself back into society after being resurrected, Xander found her a job working on his construction site. However, this only caused issues for Xander. 

The Engagement 

Xander was having a lot of doubts about his relationship with Anya. In fact, Xander went on to summon the demon Sweet, in order to try and make sure their relationship would continue. During this time, both Xander and Anya expressed both excitement and concern about their marriage.

On their wedding day, Xander was visited by a man who claimed to be his future self, and showed him the horrible life he would have if he went through with the marriage. Though this wasn’t true, he still stopped the wedding, which left Anya heart broken. 

Xander tried to win Anya back, but after finding out that she had returned to her demonic ways and that she had slept with Spike, he became very angry.

This was worsened when he realized Buffy had been secretly sleeping with Spike for a long time. When Spike attempted to rape Buffy, Xander became infuriated, though he made amends with Buffy. 

Dark Willow

When Willow’s girlfriend Tara was shot, Xander blamed himself for not acting fast enough. Xander tried to support Willow, however, it soon became clear that her revenge had gone too far, as she tried to destroy the world.

Just before Willow was about to succeed, Xander went to Willow, and refused to leave her side.

He showered her with love and care, and eventually returned Willow to her normal self. Xander was the true hero of this moment, showing the powerful nature of his compassionate and empathetic nature, as well as illuminating his real, platonic love for Willow. 

Parental Role 

Xander went on to look after Dawn alongside Buffy. In fact, his role in constructing the new Sunnydale Highschool helped the group gain access to information in order to help Dawn avoid any supernatural trouble.

HE was able to gain access to a plan of this building, which helped the Scooby Gang immensely. Although this did not prevent Dawn from facing a group of evil ghosts on her first day, Xander did step up and defeat the evil. 

Anya

Despite Anya becoming a demon again, Xander struggled to let go of his feelings for her. He tried to convince Buffy to not kill Anya, as he believed she could redeem herself after killing a group of frat boys.

In order for Anya to truly redeem herself, and undo what she had done to the boys, she had to be stripped of her demonic powers once again. Following that, Xander and Anya decided to end their relationship for good. Although, the two occasionally reunited when a crisis emerged. 

The First Evil 

Xander was very active in the fight against the first evil, and his empathetic nature came in very useful when Dawn thought she too might be a Slayer, but was mistaken.

During the fight, Xander’s eye was gouged out, and so he reluctantly had to take a step back from the battle. In fact, Buffy begged Xander to remove himself and Dawn from the area, in order to protect them both. However, in doing so, Dawn fought back and they returned to Buffy’s house. 

In the final battle, Anya was killed by a Bringer’s sword. After fighting alongside Dawn, Xander survived the battle, and left Sunnydale with the rest of the survivors. When he found out that Anya had died saving someone’s life, he replied with ‘That’s my girl. Always doing the stupid thing.’

Personality / Traits 

Xander was known as having a sarcastic attitude, and a sardonic outlook on life. He responded to dangerous situations by making jokes, and often made dramatic statements. 

He was riddled with insecurity, especially concerning his status within the Scooby Gang. He often discussed feeling frustrated at not being able to really do anything, in comparison to his friends. 

Despite his laid back nature, he did often lose his temper. His anger towards characters such as Spike and Angel often manifested in aggressive ways. 

He did however have a great heart, spoke up when necessary, and always tried to protect the ones he loved.

Appearance 

Xander was a tall man with messy brown hair. He had a noticeable smile, and an expressive face, often unable to hide when he was feeling scared or concerned. 

Powers / Abilities 

Xander didn’t possess any supernatural talents. However, his empathy and compassion could be considered a useful ability.

Also, thanks to being briefly transformed into a soldier, he had knowledge of military training and tactics. He was also able to handle weapons, and was great at thinking and responding to situations quickly. 

Relationships 

Natalie French 

Xander was briefly seduced by a substitute teacher called Miss French. However she turned out to be a giant praying mantis who had a taste for male virgins. 

Ampata Gutierrez

Xander fell for the exchange student, Ampata Gutierrez. However, Ampata turned out to be an ancient Inca Mummy, who wanted to kill so that she could have a normal life. 

Cordelia Chase 

Xander and Cordelia initially hated each other. However, they finally admitted they had an attraction for each other, and continued dating in secret. This was a rocky relationship, and after a series of being on-and-off, Cordelia finally ended it with Xander after finding out about his affair with Willow. 

Willow

Though their relationship was mostly platonic, Willow and Xander went through a phase of getting together behind the backs of their partners. This, however, was short lived, and ended when both of their partners found out. 

Anya Jenkins 

Though Xander was originally annoyed by Anya, he grew to love her after they began having a causal relationship. The two got very serious, and were engaged to be married. On their wedding day, however, Xander called things off. 

Anya was heart broken, and returned to her demonic ways. She also had sex with Spike. Though this infuriated Xander, he still struggled to shake his feelings for her. Though their relationship had ended, the two did occasionally get together in times of crisis. 

Friendships 

Xander was a good friend to many. Although his relationships with members of the Scooby Gang often became complicated, they always managed to work it out. He also became good friends with a number of other characters, especially the romantic partners of the Scooby Gang.

He got along well with Willow’s partners Tara and Oz, even after Willow had cheated on Oz with Xander. Though he didn’t like Angel or Spike, he got along well with Riley. 

Familial Relationships

Xander’s relationship with his own parents was a rocky one. However, Giles was often a great father figure to Xander, despite their vastly different personalities. Joyce Summers, Buffy’s mother, also took on a surrogate mother role for Xander. 

Appearances 

Xander features in every single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, apart from one, ‘Conversations with Dead People’. 

Brandon doesn’t go on to portray Xander in any other TV series, however, Xander’s whereabouts are mentioned in an episode of the spinoff series, Angel. 

Xander is included in most Buffy comics and novels, and his story is continued in the comic series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

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