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Xander - A Series Long Redemption Arc

Priceless

Scooby
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Just watched a video about why Buffy is so great and it was suggested that Xander had a series long redemption arc. Now I think Xander does improve and his best season is Season 7 (and the comics), but I've never before thought of it as an actual 'redemption arc'.

Do you think Xander had a series long redemption arc?
 

thrasherpix

Scooby
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No. I see a character who starts out as a clueless teenage boy who grows into a better man, better than many others his age by season 7. But that doesn't make it a redemption arc. He saves the other characters (and even the world) more than many remember, as well.
 

Tank1978

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For me he really starts to mature in season 4 and that is my favourite Xander season. I was pleased he got to save the world with his love and words in season 6. Was fitting that the only member of the gang with no supernatural powers or origins got to be the hero in a season when life and the rubbish it throws at you is the real big bad.

I like xander in season 7 and by then he's really become the glue holding them together
 

Puppet

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Black Thorn
I would agree that Xander's character growth doesn't come full circle until S7 when he is so mature and calm for the most part. I wouldn't call it a 'redemption arc' because I can't see what he has to redeem himself for. He's not a vampire who was cursed with a soul, or a Slayer who went dark for a while. He's just a kid trying to survive living on a Hellmouth and not always being his best self.
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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The nature of redemption requires you to owe a debt. I suppose he owes Buffy a life debt, for saving him in the pilot. But that really doesn't get addressed, ever. He did playfully call Buffy a slut once, but I doubt either character remembered it by the end of the day. So did they say what Xander is doing atonement for? The character may be Joss's version of Persona 5, wish fulfilment of how he would have liked to be in high school, but being a dork isn't much of a character arc.
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
He saves her in the very next episode getting her out of the sewers. One time out of many, including the end of Vol 1. If anything, the others owe him a debt, but I don't like to keep score. He's not.

Athene

Scooby
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Sineya
I guess redemption sounds like too big a word but it's probably not, if I do badly at something I want to 'redeem' myself next time so it doesn't always have to be a huge thing. I think Xander's arc in the later seasons is more about his problems catching up with him and coming to terms with them.
 

Priceless

Scooby
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I guess redemption sounds like too big a word but it's probably not, if I do badly at something I want to 'redeem' myself next time so it doesn't always have to be a huge thing. I think Xander's arc in the later seasons is more about his problems catching up with him and coming to terms with them.
Yes I think this is more like it. We know Cordy felt she needed to be redeemed for her behaviour in school, and yes she was a bully, but nothing so terrible that she needed a redemption arc (and ended up paying with her life) Whereas Xander also had some problematic moments growing up, but we don't say he needs a redemption arc.
 
Athene
Athene
Yeah I think a redemption arc is too strong but people can feel they need to redeem themselves for smaller things.

The Bronze

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Black Thorn
Everyone has their own version of what requires redemption and how that might be achieved. However it's a real stretch to see how that would include being an ass at times as a kid. I think it's a good arc of growing up however.
 

Ethan Reigns

Scooby
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Sineya
I don't think Xander had done anything necessitating redemption, although there are people who think of normal adolescence as a sin of some sort.

The first time we see him act badly is in "The Pack" but this is a spell that only hit him because he was coming to the aid of another student who was being bullied.

In nightmares, we see Xander being the only one to destroy his fears when he punches out the clown. He never has that fear again even though all the other characters are still plagued by their fears.

By the end of Season 1, he resuscitates Buffy and without him, it would have been a very short series.

In Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, he tries to actualize everyone's adolescent fantasy - he tries to cast a spell that makes him irresistible to the opposite sex. Being able to accomplish something that everyone else would want to do but can't is not a sign of something needing redemption, just a sign that he is still learning. He is given the opportunity to act on his sexual fantasies about Buffy but he declines.

When Buffy has to deliver the knockout to Acathla, Xander is the one to get the rocket launcher.

Dead Man's Party is where he comes off at his worst and most judgemental. If there is an arc, this is a notch where it goes down.

Next, we get to The Zeppo. "I like the quiet." And all the turmoil and Brownian motion in Xander's mind goes quiet and stays that way. Plus, he finally ends his loser status with is refusal to answer Cordelia's taunts.

Later, we see Xander, long-time resident of loserville, being hooked up with Cordelia, prospective prom queen. It goes off the rails, but not every hookup is intended to last and he ends up buying her the prom dress she couldn't afford on her own.

Xander then becomes General Xander under Field Marshall Buffy when the Mayor goes boom.

In "Something Blue", Willow casts a spell to make him a demon magnet and after that, all of his lovers are demons. The spell never gets fully reversed. I approve of him ending up with Dawn in the comics - their relationship is based on mutual respect.

If there is an arc, it does have a step function at "The Replacement" where Xander characteristically tries to deflect the energy cast at Buffy and separates into the competent Xander and the incompetent Xander. By the end of the episode,

In "Flooded", he gets Buffy the best deal he can on replacement plumbing.

In "Hell's Bells" he hits a low spot again, but this is because a former victim of Anya's comes back to take revenge. Xander's only flaw is that he didn't dump her sooner.

In "Grave", he does an outstanding job of saving the world using love rather than powers or weapons and this is one of his peaks.

In "Selfless", he tries to get Buffy to reconsider killing Anya.

In "First Date", he is still a demon magnet.

He is the one who recognizes that Spike is being triggered.

He fights Caleb and loses an eye.

I don't think Xander has a smooth arc, but I also think anyone who sees him as needing redemption is someone who hates adolescents in general.
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
Make that adolescent boys, or even males, in general...certain hotness exceptions available by many. The girls were just as "bad" as Xander (including what they called other girls), and also made awful decisions but that gets overlooked by most.

AlphaFoxtrot

Scooby
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Well, Cordelia at least makes sense. Cordie had a fatal flaw, Pride. She was also blessed by fortune. As Harmony put it, they had big plans for their lives, now Cordie’s broke and Harm is dead. If Cordie wants to read Karma in her current circumstances, that works. Xander, isn’t on that series. If anything, Xander is the loyal friend who represents Buffy’s Heart, who’s primary fear is failing Buffy when she needs him. He may resent his upbringing, he may have regrets on how his life has turned out, and may fear what it will become, but has he committed mortal sins where the road to forgiveness leads through seven seasons of penance? Hardly.
 

Robinette

Townie
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Sineya
I can agree with it being called a series long redemption arc, and I understand that to a lot of people he didn't require redemption. What struck me most about Xander when I rewatched the whole series is he progresses at the slowest rate of any of the characters. This is most noticeable when you compare Xander to Cordelia. Cordelia grows not as fast as Willow and Buffy do, but she is almost unrecognisable by the time she goes to Los Angeles. Xander's flaws drag him down for a lot longer than Cordelia's do. You can compare Xander to Giles, and find that Giles learns from his mistakes a lot quicker than Xander does. Xander is still making the same mistakes very late into the series. I don't want to detract from the good progress he does make, which has been pointed out by others, but it can be noted that the arc of his growth is certainly a series-long one.
 
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I don't think it's a redemption arc - mostly because he never does anything for which he requires redeeming and without the redemption part it's just 'an arc'. I would agree he has an arc- he grows and matures as a person is wont to do over 7 years of their life. His trajectory is not always linear, that's true to life too.

It certainly isn't written as a redemption arc, nearly all of Xander's worst attributes are not supposed to be bad attributes, they are there because of the writers' flaws not his. We're never supposed to dislike Xander, we're always supposed to be rooting for him - he isn't being redeemed by the writers, he's just there. And because the very worst of Xander is accidental and not supposed to be a problem he is never punished for these characteristics or tries to work on them or is written as seeking forgiveness for them. They just happen and then are never mentioned again.

His actual purposefully written flaws, put into the character to make him believable, are his insecurities and immaturity. Neither of these require redemption - he improves on both accounts but - as with most flaws - they never really go away, he just gets better at managing them. And that's his arc. But it's not a redemptive one - it's more a coming of age one. Which makes sense, considering Buffy is a coming of age show and he is her metaphorical heart.
 

AstridDante

Potential
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No, I never would have thought of it as a classic redemption arc, he was never an inherently bad guy. Yes he had his flaws and could be judgemental at times but he was always the heart and human side of the scoobies. All the characters had strengths and weaknesses as is human nature even if people work on their perceived flaws, I wouldn’t call that a redemption arc. Spike is the classic example of a redemption arc, you can easily trace it and see it evolve. Xander simply grew up
 
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