Xander Harris

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Character
Name: Alexander (Xander) Lavelle Harris
Occupation: Sunnydale High student, construction worker, vampire fighter
Title/Rank:
Location: Sunnydale, California
Status: alive
Relationships: Cordelia, Faith, Anya, Dawn
Fandom:
Other:
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Xander Harris was a regular character for the entire run of the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is a regular character in current season 8 Buffy comics. He was played by the actor Nicholas Brendon in seasons 1-7 (1997-2003).

Character Overview

Xander is the only 100% human character among slayers, vampires, werevolves, demons, supersoldiers, Watchers and witches. He starts as a Sunnydale High student; in season 4, when his friends start college, he feels disconnected from them, but in season 5 he discovers carpentry (apt metaphor, as he is the glue that holds the Scooby gang together) and slowly becomes his own man. After the destruction of Sunnydale he relocates to Europe and works as Buffy's second-in-command.

Major Relationships

In Canon

  • Cordelia Chase. In season 2 Xander saves Cordelia Chase, the bane of his high school existence, one too many times, and the most unlikely romance in the known universe occurs. (Episode "What's My Line", part 2)
  • Faith. In season 3 Xander loses his virginity to Faith the Vampire Slayer, who later becomes an enemy and tries to strangle him.
  • Anya. By the end of season 3 Xander meets former demon Anya who has lost her demon power. In season 4 they become lovers. In season 5 Xander proposes to Anya on the eve of the upcoming apocalypse. In season 6 they plan to marry, but Xander leaves her at the altar. They briefly resume their relationship in the end of season 7, but in the finale Anya dies in the battle.
  • Dawn. Working together brings Xander and Dawn close. In issue 28 of season 8 comics Buffy sees Xander and Dawn kissing.

In Fandom

Spike/Xander (Spander) is probably the predominant pairing in fanfiction. Other significant pairings include Giles/Xander and Angel/Xander (in slash).

When it comes to het, fandom seems to ship Xander with Cordy, Willow, Faith, Dawn (usually with an adult Dawn) and Anya. At the very beginning there was some Buffy/Xander going on but it seemed to lose the appeal as the series progressed. Rarer pairings include Fred/Xander, Illyria/Xander, Harmony/Xander and Joyce/Xander.

Character Tropes

There are several recurring tropes in fanfiction regarding Xander. Most of them stem from the fact that Xander was the only human member of the Scooby Gang and aim to make him something more.

Hyena!Xander

In season one episode The Pack, Xander is possessed by a hyena spirit. He then creates a pack out of troublemaking teenagers and they wreck havoc in Sunnydale. At the end of the episode Xander is de-possessed and pretends to have amnesia regarding the events in the episode.

In many fanfics the hyena spirits either comes back (often prompted by a trauma Xander goes through) or never leaves in the first place. Fics with Hyena!Xander often see him trying to form a pack, acknowledging Scoobies as his pack and looking for a mate. Because Xander's hyena has been acknowledged as female, in fics he sometimes clashes with Buffy (the alpha female of the Scoobies).

The Zeppo

Because of his human status Xander is often perceived as The Zeppo, the useless one in the group. He sometimes even refers to himself as such both in fics and in canon. Xander The Zeppo is a prominent part of shipper fics where the other half of the ship is the one to acknowledge Xander's skills and usefulness.[1]

Soldier!Xander

In episode six, in season two, titled Halloween Xander is transformed into a soldier (due to a spell cast by Ethan Rayne). Afterwards, he retains the memories he gained during the spell, however that fact isn't explored at length. It's briefly acknowledged in canon, when Xander obtains a bazooka in season 2, and in season 4 when the Scoobies break into the Initiative's base.

In fanfics the military knowledge Xander has is used to strengthen his position in the group, and explain his good fighting skills. In some fics, Xander actually joins the military.

A common fanfic trope, especially seen in crossovers, is the retention of superpowers, skills, and other characteristics acquired by wearing different costumes in this episode. It's most common in Xander-centric stories, but has been used to make most canon characters into superheroes, turn them into Ewoks, etc.

The One Who Sees

In season seven, Caleb pokes Xander's eye out calling him The One Who Sees. That trope is used to sometimes give Xander Seer powers. The title is also referenced in many post season seven fics.

Xander is Special

This trope started early and is possibly one of the most used tropes when it comes to Xander. Xander is turned into a vampire, a demon, a seer, or any kind of supernatural being (or he is one from the very beginning) but the change doesn't stop there. In many cases his new status is made Special because of some quality (he's a Consort, he gains Destiny, he's the key to saving the world).

Xander is one of the most popular characters to be turned into a Mary Sue, with a use of this trope.

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References

  1. At some point in 2009 there appears to have been persistent flaming of authors using this term, with the poster insisting that Xander should be called The Zippo instead, and some authors complied, see: Twisting the Hellmouth Forums - The Zippo? (7th August 2009, accessed 20th July 2015). The practice seems to have ended fairly quickly.