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Both. Clearly both. It is the tension between her confident front and her low self-esteem that make her such an interesting and dynamic character.
Willow always clung to whatever makes her feel good about herself. She has always been good at school, so she is happy to tutor Xander and Buffy and later Dawn. She does this partly because she wants to help them, but also because she needs to feel useful and important. Xander often ignored her, but he needed her help to pass classes, so unless he is Hyena-possessed, he has no choice but let her help him.
Magic makes Willow immensely useful, so it feeds her insecurities like nothing else can. She admits to Buffy that she never truly let Tara know what she was like before she had that crutch, and so she is terrified of having to give it up.
Willow as a powerful witch or the witch she started to be in S3.
Willow the highschool shy girl wasn't really entertaining or interesting IMO. I started to find her memorable in Becoming, I think that in S1 and S2 she was just kind of there, this is why in the earlier seasons (S1&2) I much prefer Xander (more interesting, funnier...) but then when Willow becomes a witch in S3, I start to find her more entertaining than Xander as he becomes annoying & also got on my nerves when he betrayed Buffy in Becoming).
Willow started to have great character episodes/moments when she started to become a witch (Doppelgangland, The Wish, Choices...) And she had that magic relationship with Tara which was amazing.
I voted for Shy Schoolgirl as I enjoyed early season Willow more than later season Willow. But I would have liked if they combined the shy and powerful sided of Willow more, sometimes she felt like two different characters.
I can't choose between them. Willow is my favorite in both season 1 and 5. Season 1 is what made her relatable and thus on her journey. And she was surprising in so many ways that made me smile (even cheer) the first time I saw it, whether it's her telling Cordy "Deliver" to her playing Hyena Xander while he's caged. Her banter was an enjoyable as Xander to me, and the 2 played off each other back then very well.
Season 5 is how far she has grown, though bits of the old Willow (such as when being intimidated by Watchers) show through to make her recognizable.
Willow in the earlier seasons ,( Shy Schoolgirl ) when she was a real friend to Buffy , S4 although still friendly she had started to drift away from Buffy , S6 the magic had taken over , she got , old saying....... she got to big for her boots , Bringing Buffy back with no thought of where Buffy was or not caring , and then just seeking vengeance on the Trio , hurting Buffy , Xander, Dawn , Anya and Giles ( he so deserved it ) people she says she loves.....no she no longer loved it was just a selfish and convenient love for the other scoobies and certainly to Buffy as we saw when she supported Faith in Empty places
Powerful witch never felt earned. I mean, Nerdy Willow studied all the time, she may have been talented, but she always worked hard too. Then six months latter, she's more powerful than the Mayor and Anya. Aside from Hellmouth and Jasmine really wanting Angel to get his soul back, and empowering Willow to do so, it's not really well explained.
I prefer Willow as a shy schoolgirl because I think having her rely on her magic so much really highlighted her worst qualities which were arrogance and her hunger to be special. To me Willow was more special (and likable) when she wasn’t so overpowered. It’s not like Willow was useless before she became a proper witch- her book smarts and computer skills were always utilised. I think they should have kept the storyline of Willow becoming a witch but they shouldn’t have let it reach the levels it did in season 5/6. And Willow definitely shouldn’t have stayed ‘shy’ throughout the whole series but again it didn’t have to turn into what it did in the later seasons.
I liked the shy school girl who would still have the spine to shout at Xander and Cordelia for bickering or dress down Giles for stressing Buffy out. I found her interesting, brave and sympathetic. She wasn't perfect- Willow isn't very likable for much of S3- but she seemed like a more fully realized person rather than just shy wallflower.
I do like witch Willow in S5 but after that she's never fully held to account for massive character faults, also in S6 and 7 she seemed to lose that early spark she had in high school.
I just wish they wrote Willow better in the last few seasons. She’s mean. She’s cruel to people. She’s not the gorgeous lovely little sprite she is in the early seasons. She’s so adorable she has such a golden heart.
Hard to say. I love Willow in the first few seasons. I've known so many girls like her who are so smart, and sweet that they feel they just have to be nice to everybody. That's why I love the Spike can't bite her scene as she is actually being nice to Spike because she thinks she has too LOL. It's not to save her life (she finally snaps out of it and realises the danger she is in later when she smashes the lamp on his head.) At first however that's just her natural reaction to be really nice to people.
I know the Big Bang Theory isn't held in high regard, but I always felt this scene summed up Willow, and Fred, which will be why Spike gets on so well with both. No one else in either Buffy or Angel's teams like Xander, Giles or Angel himself will have time for Spike's snarky humour, but Willow, Tara, Fred and Joyce who is kind of like an older vesion of that type will be polite to him anyway, and even without a soul he appreciates that LOL.
That scene and characters like Willow and Tara are so well observed. 😆
The Willow of season 6 was obviously more unlikable, but then again she was meant to be. Her brainwashing Tara was definitely a major black mark against the character that it was hard to come back from though (even more than killing Warren as she was completely consumed by dark magics at that point, plus he deserved it anyway LOL.)
Overall apart from the brainwashing bit and Kennedy, I did like seeing Willow develop from a shy girl to the most powerful character in the show. It's great when you watch her being menaced by a punk ass Vampire like Thomas in Welcome to the Hellmouth and then think where she will end up.
I also felt Alyson Hannigan could very well be the best actor in either show. It's hard to say, but there are some moments where she is absolutely sensational like her total breakdown after she almost gets Dawn killed, and she also was genuinely terrifying when torturing Warren. It's a testament to her acting that you get scared for ****ing Warren of all people, who've you wanted to see get his just deserts for ages now. She wouldn't have been stretched as much had we not seen the nastier, more desperate sides to Willow's personality.
Overall I'm going to say that in spite of some hiccups with the magic addiction I like them both, as you can't have one without the other.
Instead of a 'neither' option, I wish there'd been a 'both'. I like both types of Willow. Schoolgirls Willow is adorable and easy to like an empathise with, but I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on powerful witch Willow.