Who was the bravest character on Buffy The Vampire Slayer?
Buffy’s a good guess. She faced certain death every season. She was also the hero. Brave. Super-powered. Chosen. But her bravery was almost a given. Handed down along with her super strength and kung-fu skills. Bravery for her wasn’t unremarkable, per se. But it was certainly expected.
How about Willow, maybe?
Willow didn’t have super strength like Buffy. She didn’t face off against monsters the way Buffy did either. But you could argue that her intelligence gave her an advantage against the enemy. She was born with that too. You might even call it a super power. Especially since she used it to develop actual supernatural powers as a witch in later seasons.
And those witchy super powers were definitely, well, super.
In fact, everyone on the show had a super power. Except one person.
By now you’ve probably guessed I’m going to point out Xander. And you probably guessed what else I’m going to say.
That Xander’s lack of superpowers made him the bravest character on Buffy.
Because Xander faced everything his super-powered comrades did—vampires, werewolves, witches, monsters, and teachers—while having almost nothing to protect himself with.
We can learn a lot from Xander as writers.
What Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Xander Teaches Writers About Writing
Xander was an opportunity for the illustrious Joss Whedon to make a statement about everyday heroism.
Speculative fiction, in all its unreality, gives writers an ironic opportunity to explore what is most true.
In Buffy, it’s Xander who reflects our everyday bravery. Sure, Buffy is the hero. She’s who we wish we could be. But Xander is who we are.
We don’t have super powers in the real world. Like Xander, we make do with what we have. Fighting our epic battles with our pitifully inadequate humanity. It’s the contrast between Buffy’s and Willow’s superhuman powers versus Xander’s everyday lack of them that shows us how brave he—and we—truly are.
Okay, this may sound like hokey sentimentalism (don’t tell anyone I succumbed), and I’m just gonna say it anyway.
Being a nonhero among heroes is its own kind of heroism.
What does it mean that Xander not only rubbed shoulders with heroes, but survived long enough to save them?
Whedon finally gave this a nod in season 7’s episode, “Potential.” Xander tells Buffy’s non-super-powered sister, Dawn:
They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn’t chosen; to live so near the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes,’cause nobody’s watching me. I saw you last night, I see you working here today… You’re not special. You’re extraordinary. – Xander Harris, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
This is how expert writers elevate life through art. And it’s something you can do as a writer too.
So here’s to Xander, and here’s to us. We may not be special. But we’re extraordinary.
What’s Xander-Actor, Nicholas Brendon, Up To Now?
Nicholas Brendon, the actor who played Xander Harris on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, is busy acting in both movies and tv shows these days.
If you’re into mind-bending movies, then add Coherence to your movies-to-watch list. Here’s the storyline from IMDB:
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, Coherence is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery.
Reviewers call this movie cerebral, high-tension, and mysterious. And I say it’s one of the best and most surprisingly engrossing movies you’ve never heard of.
Watch it now. Thank me later.
And if science fiction is what you’re into, try 58 Science Fiction Writing Prompts to get started on your own scifi story.