Tara Maclay

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Name: Tara Maclay
Occupation: Student
Relationships: Willow Rosenberg
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Other: Played by Amber Benson
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Tara Maclay is a recurring character in Buffy The Vampire Slayer for seasons 4 - 6.


Tara is a shy young woman with magical talents who falls in love with Willow Rosenberg, one of the core characters. Together, they help Buffy Summers, who has been given superhuman powers to defeat evil forces in the fictional town of Sunnydale.


Common Pairings

The canonical Willow/Tara is the major pairing. Despite clearly identifying as a lesbian, there's little other femslash, and she is probably more often paired with Spike than any other character.[citation needed] As of 2018, Buffy/Tara and Faith/Tara are both more popular than Tara/Spike.

Fan reaction to Tara's death

Spoilers for Tara's death leaked long before Seeing Red's airdate.[1] The episode aired in May 2002 and by March, The Kitten Board's unoffical mantra had changed from "Remember the kitten board mantra: Joss is nuts about Willow/Tara" to "Remember the kitten board mantra: Joss can go to hell."[2] On this W/T centric board, many fans immediately linked the spoiler to the dead/evil lesbian cliche.

Joss was heavily criticized for writing Tara's death, causing, as it did, a formerly positive gay relationship to suddenly fulfil two negative stereotypes, that of the mentally unstable gay person (Willow), and the gay person who must die as 'punishment' for their sexuality (Tara). Other fans felt it was unfair to criticize Joss who had previously killed fan-favourite characters with no warning.[3]

The fan response varied. Some fans refused to believe the spoilers, and even after Tara's death, a small number of fans were hopeful that the character could still return. Much meta was written, with frequent discussion of the Bury Your Gays trope. Still other fans were angry at showrunners, who they felt had misled fans intentionally; vowing to stop watching Buffy and refusing to watch Joss's new series Firefly.

Years later, Shipperx referenced the kitten jihad in her tongue in cheek diagnostic tool, You Might Have Post-Traumatic Joss Syndrome. It appears that this term was used to deride some very vocal and very angry Tara fans, for their reaction to her death. However it was the self described Kittens (fans of Willow/Tara) who raised over $8000 for the Trevor Project.[4] Xita, founder of the Kitten Board explained that fans wanted "to make a statement by contributing to something that helps the kind of fans whom Tara was important to: gay and questioning youth."[5]


See also PsychoLesbian at TV Tropes.

Notable Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.


  • Terra Firma by Tulipp, When Tara returns three months after Grave, Willow and the Scoobies must learn how she came back...and why. (2003, Willow/Tara)
  • Impossibly Delightful Flesh by Sadbhyl, In which the Scoobies have a small accident that leads to some major changes in their lives and has them questioning the deeper issues of sexuality, gender, and the heart. (2004, Willow/Tara and other pairings) Notable for its focus on Tara's reaction to a genderswap scenario.
  • Quiet as a Mouse by Miranda (Fic author), Events have driven Tara from Sunnydale and five years down the line they start to draw her back in, along with a reluctant Spike. (2006, Tara/Spike)
  • The Lamb by Tara the Phoenix, Tara is a hospice nurse in Los Osos, California about to get a new patient: Willow Rosenberg, the sole survivor of the Sunnydale implosion. (2007 or earlier)
  • The Wish of Three Hearts by 9kodama, AU Post season 7/end season 6. Tara's been dead for three years. On Tara's birthday, Willow drives out to the remains of crater that was once Sunnydale California to talk to her lost love. She makes a wish, and everything changes. (2010, Willow/Tara)


Links and Resources


  1. ^ Discussion of Spoiler on The Kitten Board, March 09 2002. Spoilers were provided by AnGelX, spoiler source at The Buffy Cross & Stake spoiler board.
  2. ^ The whole sad, sordid storya LJ post by kdickson, March 21, 2002.
  3. ^ http://www.ink19.com/issues/july2002/streaks/deathOfTaraQuotThe.html
  4. ^ Kitten Charity Drive - The Trevor Project raised $8,326.27.
  5. ^ Xita's interview on Page 18 of the The Advocate, Nov 26 2002.