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Xander .. strengths and weaknesses

Gnomie192

Townie
Joined
Aug 9, 2020
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27
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40
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Hi Guys, just wondered what everyone's thoughts are on Xander.

He is one of my least favourite characters (along with Willow).

What do you think his character brings to the show?

What are his strengths and weaknesses?
 

Priceless

Scooby
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Jan 25, 2016
Messages
8,004
Location
UK
I am not a huge fan of Xander. I don't think his character has aged well. My favourite Xander is in Season 7 and in the comics. He's more grown up, he has a job and a place in the world. He's not still running from his father, he's kinder and shows more understanding of others.

In the earlier seasons he was the guy without any powers and so was brave to keep fighting alongside his friends. He could be funny. He was cute.
 

burrunjor

Potential
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Nov 13, 2018
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400
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30
Xander I think served as a good source of comedy, was a good loyal friend to the others and helped ground the show in reality a bit more by being the every man. I liked Nick Brendan's performance, he was a bit like Bruce Campbell in some ways, of being sarcastic, but self aware and self depricating. He also had great chemistry with pretty much all the main cast members, Willow, Cordelia, Buffy, Giles, Anya (of course) Dawn, even Oz all have some of their funniest moments with him.

That said I think his failings are, in season 2 he is at his worst as he is too hard on Buffy, and his humour gets too intrusive at certain points like the Watchers pet bit in Passion. (I was almost ready to yell shut up at him, when Giles did in What's My Line, that's how much he was annoying me LOL.)

I also think his development was botched in season 6 when he left Anya at the altar. I still don't know why they did that, since it led to absolutely NOTHING. Seriously would season 7 have been so much different if Xander and Anya were married?

Also I think pairing him with Anya was a bit of a mistake only in that it undermined his moral stance against Angel and Spike, though Nick and Emma wre great together, and it made sense to pair a new Cordelia type with Xander.

I agree that season 7 sees some much needed growth in the character after S6, like his new compassion and even temper towards Spike (in contrast towards Angel,) his maturity in dealing with Anya, and his support of Dawn when no one else sees how upset she is at not being a Slayer. (That said he also got a bit of the short end of the stick at the end of the series, with his love dying and being blinded in one eye. We didn't get nearly enough time to see the full effect of those tragedies on him.)

Overall whilst he's not a favourite of mine like Spike, Giles and Faith, I certainly don't think you could do the show without him. He is a vital part of the shows DNA.
 

Kratos

Scooby
Joined
Jul 10, 2018
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703
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Republic of Ireland
I wasn’t a Xander fan when I was younger, but he’s grown on me recently. I now see bits of my past self’s flaws that I used to overlook in him and a lot of his humor went over my head years ago. He’s not one of my favourite characters yet, but he’s getting there. I have little sympathy for him in episodes such as Dead Man’s Party and Entropy, though.
 

burrunjor

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Messages
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I wasn’t a Xander fan when I was younger, but he’s grown on me recently. I now see bits of my past self’s flaws that I used to overlook in him and a lot of his humor went over my head years ago. He’s not one of my favourite characters yet, but he’s getting there. I have little sympathy for him in episodes such as Dead Man’s Party and Entropy, though.
To be fair to Xander I don't think any of them come out of Dead Man's Party well. (Apart from Giles and Cordelia of all people. Buffy's feelings are understandable, but still wanting to take off again was not right.)
 
Kratos
Kratos
Agreed.

Puppet

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Black Thorn
Xander is my favorite character so clearly I adore him, lol.

What his character brings to the show is the cliche that a lot of genre shows like this have; the sole human character. He's the one fans can - according to the people behind the show - most easily relate to, because he doesn't have any superpowers and so he's almost the voice, and definitely the heart, of the story. He is there, also, to kind of be the quintessential 'normal' of the group, there to pull other characters back when they go too far - Willow in Grave is the clearest example of this.

I would say that his strengths are his heart, his humor - which is often there to relieve tension in very upsetting situations - his bravery, and his loyalty to the people he cares about. However, on the flip side, his weaknesses are his jealousy (and I'm not just talking about early 'I want to date Buffy' jealousy either), his quick jump to anger/quick jump to conclusions, and that disease called foot-in-mouth that a lot of similar characters have (Chandler Bing, for example).

That said I think his failings are, in season 2 he is at his worst as he is too hard on Buffy, and his humour gets too intrusive at certain points
That's so funny, because imo he is at his best, humor-wise, in S2; I've never laughed more at his jokes :) I also agree with about 99% of the serious things he says and does in S2, including The Lie and that Buffy needs to be honest about why she wants to re-curse Angel. But that's for another thread.
 

Priceless

Scooby
Joined
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UK
I'm currently watching season 4 and I am enjoying the Xander/Giles dynamic. They both feel left out of the main action as Buffy and Willow go off to college and they have a few funny scenes together.
 

darkspook

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Dec 13, 2020
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114
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I am a big Xander fan and feel that his character was underused and underdeveloped. He was the everyman of the show. He wasn't in the show because it was his destiny, his calling, his redemption or whatever. He was just a regular guy who happened to be friends with a bunch of superheroes. His strengths are his humour, his willing to do anything for his friends and his loyality. His weaknesses are his big old blindspot when it comes to Buffy, and in fact to most of the girls he really loves. Buffy is often put on a pedastel where he's concerned so his makes mistakes or does stupid things he gets angry. Its not healthy but it is very much who he is.
 

AstridDante

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May 4, 2020
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Xander is a great character and often times gets unwarranted vitriol in the fandom. His strengths are his caring nature, loyalty and humour. His weaknesses as set self doubt, judgemental of others but that’s usually with their best interests at heart and can be hypocritical. He definitely idiolises Buffy, even more so than Anya as evidenced by his reaction (once calmed down) to Anya sleeping with Spike which he understood versus Buffy sleeping with Spike which was beyond his comprehension. He told Spike ‘he would never have a chance with a girl like you’
 

Faded90

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Apr 2, 2020
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Xander is a great character and often times gets unwarranted vitriol in the fandom. His strengths are his caring nature, loyalty and humour. His weaknesses as set self doubt, judgemental of others but that’s usually with their best interests at heart and can be hypocritical. He definitely idiolises Buffy, even more so than Anya as evidenced by his reaction (once calmed down) to Anya sleeping with Spike which he understood versus Buffy sleeping with Spike which was beyond his comprehension. He told Spike ‘he would never have a chance with a girl like you’
Yeah that spoke volumes. His ‘I understand Anya I do... but you!’ ‘I didn’t think he had a chance with a girl like you’. There’s no doubt he’s in love with Anya but it’s clear he values Buffy as a person a LOT higher than Anya
 

Athene

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Sineya
Xander is my favourite male character I think what attracts me about Xander is that he is very flawed in a regular person way but that never overshadows his great moments in the show where he shows that he's the heart of the friendship group and I always feel like I understand him which is key to becoming a favourite character of mine. So instead of his flaws making him unlikable they just give him layers and make him interesting and that's the difference to me.
 

thrasherpix

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Mar 13, 2016
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3,405
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Loyal, funny, and always there. Even with his hatred for Angel (which I don't think was completely based on jealousy, nor was it completely unreasonable), he would (usually) do the right thing in the end, and that would continue with Spike (in truth, I wonder if this isn't a flaw...it worked for the show, but wouldn't in real life), though I should give the disclaimer that a couple of things he did that are hated by many are things I support him in doing (or at least see as unintentional).

He was the everyman, but had his life on track far faster than most. For me this emphasizes his bravery and loyalty.

His insecurities are a double-edged sword. I think they motivate recklessness rather than courage at times, though there are times that it's courage, typically in defense of others. People forget how many times he has saved the lives of others and the world (not just against Dark Willow), at least played a crucial part in doing so.

This also fuels his jealousy which is a huge flaw, and can make him do bad things (or sometimes the right thing, but for the wrong reason, or at the wrong time). And, in my headcanon (though I know from a meta-story perspective it's because they wanted to make him the butt of jokes), he never develops his strengths, not even learning how to fight that well (beyond the reside of being a soldier while under a spell). I think there's enough there to assume he could've been a warlock even more powerful than Willow had he chosen to go down that path (but I'm glad he didn't, though I do have to count this as a flaw that grated on me at times).


People who say he is an evil "Nice Guy" don't know what a Nice Guy is who doesn't actually know the meaning of altruism and feels entitled to women as if they were objects and essentially treat as vending machines ("if I do X, then she is obligated to do Y, or she's taking advantage of me!"). Sometimes Xander is incredible with his self-control (especially for a high school boy), and if he felt entitled to female bodies then he'd have reacted very differently when that love spell went wrong (which he suffered a lot from, which I point out due to the baffling insistence he faced no negative consequences while also overlooking that he didn't take advantage of it--and his vengeance wish was a lot less destructive than Cordy's later on which was thankfully erased, in addition to him suffering the most from that magical vengeance) or with the Potentials (as he dreamed of them), among other things I could point out.

And going with the insecurities thing, people, including himself (and even myself, it's just occurring to me now), forget how often females hook up with him with surprising frequency, their often being supernatural in some way aside--and there'd been normal relationships had the supernatural not freaked other women away as happened more than once, or he wasn't already off the market (I'm thinking of that land lady who seemed to be brazenly inviting him to cheat on Anya with her that he ignored). Given how cute and having it together he is, I'm not surprised. At least as long as he stays off the booze that is a problem with his family (and the actor who plays him). Even when he and Willow had that dumb affair he was wracked with guilt over it.

This is a strength many lack, he sees people as people even when he desires them. And it's part of his loyalty and doing the right thing in the end though it may cost him dearly, and he knows that he'll be the unsung hero for his part (he actually seems to forget his own numerous life and world saving contributions himself). As he matures he accepts this with grace.



On a side note, mention the above I'm reminded of a guy who took film school classes told me his own interpretation on that: Angel and Spike (and, to a lesser extent, Riley) represent the action, danger, passion, and where all is for the taken. They're the fantasy (whether you prefer shining knights or "misunderstood" bad guys with the "hottie diff" as Kim Possible once put it that distinguishes them from garden variety jerks, and is mocked in that season 7 ep where Willow says she can see into that one guy's soul and Anya points out it wasn't his soul she was staring at), though the real world analogs of those people will work out very differently in real life to their sorrow.

In contrast, Xander represented the mundane future after they've turned off the TV (I'd add if they were lucky, the smarter girls would hone in on the Xanders fast before others woke up to the difference between fantasy and reality) that they didn't want to think about, the boring stuff (until you're old enough to appreciate those things). And from a meta-perspective, that's a strength of Xander as well (which isn't ruined because Xander isn't a saint, everyone is going to make mistakes they regret in addition to racking up other regrets), though it causes many to hate him for what the boring, mundane reality he represents (as well as perhaps of one's self, but Xander is better than many people out there).

This is why most romantic leads in fiction are going to be Angels and Spikes rather than Xanders. From a meta-story level that's a weakness on Xander's part, but seeing beyond that, I also consider it a strength.
 
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