Harris, Xander

Harris, Xander

(pop culture)

Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), short for Alexander LaVelle Harris, a main character in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, grew up in Sunnydale, California, the town in which the show was set. He was a childhood friend of Willow Rosenberg and both were sophomores at Sunnydale High School when Buffy Summers transferred from Los Angeles. He learned of Buffy’s calling to the fight against vampires soon after her transfer and, along with Willow, insisted on joining the crusade. He had no particular skills or intelligence to offer, but became Buffy’s faithful friend and supporter.

Xander had a variety of relationships with women, most disastrous. His longest high school relationship was with Cordelia Chase, their attraction being an enigma among Cordelia’s former friends, the more wealthy and trendy girls. He eventually built a reputation for falling for women who turned out to be demons. In season three, he encountered Anyanka, a vengeance demon, who had dedicated the last thousand years to granting wishes of revenge to women who had been wronged by their man. She showed up in Sunnydale after Xander cheated on Cordelia with Willow. In the process of granting a wish to Cordelia, she was transformed into the human Anya (Emma Caulfield). She eventually started dating Xander, and they remained a twosome, off and on, for the rest of the series.

Xander helped Buffy defeat Sunnydale’s demonic mayor at the end of season three. Afterwards, he does not attempt to enter college, but spends a year trying to find himself. He lived with his parents and worked at a series of jobs. Anya had left before the final battle at the school, but later returned and she and Xander began an affair that led to his asking her to marry him. By this time he had gotten a more permanent job in construction.

At the beginning of season five, Dracula briefly visited to Sunnydale, and Xander became one of his first victims, spending most of the episode as his servant. His real crisis came later, however, as the marriage with Anya approached. In the end, he got cold feet and left her at the altar. In her humiliation and anger, she once again became a vengeance demon, though after only a short time, she sought to become human again. His own maturity was shown when he argued Willow out of destroying the world in her anger over her girlfriend Tara’s death.

Xander remained loyal to Buffy to the end and during the last season it cost him his eye. He faced the last battle over the Hellmouth with an eye patch. He survived the final battle, but Anya did not. During the final season of Angel, Xander was mentioned as being in Africa working with recently activated slayers. He moved to Scotland for the season eight comic book where he (as of 2009) works closely with Buffy at the central headquarters of her international vampire fighting organization. Buffy appreciates the fact that even though Xander never developed any special talents or powers, he was always there to assist and never left her for even a short time.

Xander was overshadowed in popularity through the series by Angel and Spike, though he remained a constant presence. As Buffy paraphernalia began to appear, he was a ubiquitous presence in the trading cards, and the subject of a set of action figures.

Sources:

Battis, Jes. “‘This carpenter can drywall you into the next century’: Xander Harris as Hero, Big Brother and Male-In-Progress.” In Jes Battis. Blood Relations: Chosen Families in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005: 44–66.
Camron, Marc. “The Importance of Being the Zeppo: Xander, Gender Identity and Hybridity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 23 (2007). Posted at http://slayageonline.com/essays/slayage23/Camron.htm. Accessed on April 8, 2010.
Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher’s Guide. New York: Pocket Books, 1998. 298 pp.
Holder, Nancy, with Jeff Mariotte and Maryelizabeth Hart. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher’s Guide. Volume 2. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. 472 pp.
McKeon, J. Michael. “‘Love the One You’re With’: Developing Xander.” In Emily Dial-Driver, Sally Emmons-Featherston, Jim Ford and Carolyn Anne Taylor, eds. The Truth of Buffy: Essays on Fiction Illuminating Reality. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008: pp. 131–141.
Ruditis, Paul. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher’s Guide. Volume 3. New York: Simon Spotlight, 2004. 359 pp.