Alexander LaVelle "Xander" Harris is a fictional character in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as in numerous items which belong to the series Expanded Universe, such as comic books, tie-in novels and video games. He was conceived by series creator Joss Whedon as an everyman and a male character for series heroine Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) to interact with and provide comic relief in the series. Xander is one of several friends of Buffy who assist her in saving the world against numerous supernatural events that plague Sunnydale, California, a town built over a doorway to hell.
Xander is portrayed by Nicholas Brendon, whose twin brother Kelly Donovan occasionally appeared as his double or as a substitute actor when Brendon was unavailable. Brendon was nominated for three Saturn Awards for his portrayal of Xander. An episode which prominently featured the character and examined his importance to the show's week-to-week narrative has later become an influential model to international screenwriters in the years after Buffy stopped airing. Xander is based in part on Whedon himself, particularly in his high school years; as such, he is often the most geeky as well as witty and verbose of Buffy ' s characters. The character's overriding arc through the series has been his struggle towards maturity and earning the respect of others. In the canonical comic book continuation of the series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight (2007–2011), Xander comes to achieve these goals in becoming the tactical leader of a global army of Vampire Slayers alongside Buffy.
Academic attention to the character has frequently come in the form of gender studies or with a focus on social class, reflecting Xander's working class home life and his fears of inadequacy. However, Xander's unique position as both outside of and within the main group enhances his insight into the other characters, especially as the series continues; in Season Eight, he is Buffy's unofficial "Watcher". As such, his character is noted for being the one who observes and sees everything rightly. Critics have noted that although Xander frequently exhibits a struggle of masculinity, his storylines often focus on his romantic conquests. Following his unrequited love for Buffy, these include the tumultuous relationship with rich girl Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), brief fling with his best friend Willow (Alyson Hannigan) prior to her coming out, and his long-term relationship with ex-demon Anya (Emma Caulfield). In Season Eight, the character's older-brother relationship with Buffy's little sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) also develops along romantic lines, too late for Buffy to realise her compatibility with Xander.
Xander Harris is introduced in season one's (1997) two-part premiere "Welcome to the Hellmouth"/"The Harvest". Xander meets Buffy Summers (Gellar), the Slayer, on her first day at Sunnydale High. The same day, he meets her Watcher Rupert Giles (Anthony Head). After his buddy Jesse (Eric Balfour) is made a vampire, Xander reluctantly kills him. Xander and his best friend Willow (Hannigan) become Buffy's reliable sidekicks. He pines for Buffy's romantic affection, oblivious to Willow's affections for him, and is distrustful of Buffy's boyfriend, vampire-with-a-soul Angel (David Boreanaz). In the season finale, "Prophecy Girl", Xander saves Buffy's life by administering CPR after she is drowned by senior vampire the Master (Mark Metcalf). In season two (1997-8), Xander begins a turbulent and ambiguous relationship with popular girl Cordelia Chase (Carpenter) after they are thrown together in several life-or-death situations. Xander is turned into a soldier in the episode "Halloween", and retains extensive military knowledge thereafter; in "Innocence", this knowledge proves invaluable to helping Buffy defeat a demon who had been believed practically invincible. When Cordelia decides she needs to break up to preserve her social status, Xander coerces witch Amy Madison (Elizabeth Anne Allen) to cast a love spell, which misfires; Cordelia is unaffected but, seeing how much Xander loves her, reunites with him in defiance of her former friends, in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered". The episode "Go Fish" focuses on Xander, after he joins the swim team to investigate the disappearances of Sunnydale High swimmers. In the season finale "Becoming, Part Two", Xander decides not to tell Buffy about Willow's plan to re-ensoul Angel—who has lost his soul and is going to bring about the apocalypse— so that she will not hesitate to kill him in order to save the world.
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