Near the beginning of this challenge I talked about Buffy Summers and how her vampire-ass-kicking powers were a favorite of mine growing up. But there was another part of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Universe that made the show a huge winner with me, and that was the excellent support staff. Buffy wasn’t alone in her fight. She had a mysterious vampire with a soul watching over her from the shadows. She had a diligent Watcher who wanted nothing more than to keep her safe and ensure her continuing success. She had a brainy best friend who helped her with the research and helped keep her from flunking out of all of her classes. And then she had Xander.
Alexander Harris, known as Xander to his friends, is strictly speaking, the loser of the group. Right from the beginning of the show he’s a bit of a dweeb. He has very few friends. He is completely average when it comes to schoolwork. He’s not the jock type or the popular type in any way, shape, or form. In the first couple of seasons he has an enormous crush on Buffy, which she does not reciprocate, making him think even less of himself than he already does. When it comes to the actual monster-fighting, he’s the one who is always getting beat down, beat up, and humiliated because he has no discernible skills what-so-ever. He regularly makes stupid mistakes that actually case more damage than there might have otherwise been. And to top it all off, he has a pretty crappy home life because most of his family are drunks and/or abusive.
But the thing is, Xander has an outrageous amount of heart. He cares about his friends so much that he regularly puts himself in harm’s way in order to help them out. More than once he is able to avert disaster simply by refusing to back down when the odds were against him, and at least once he actually saves the world just by talking, because he knew exactly what the big bad evil at the time needed to hear.
The character played by Nicholas Brendon was never perfect. It took him the larger part of the running of the series to come into his own, and he made some huge mistakes both before and after those personal improvements. But he has always been real and easy for a bit of a nerd like me to relate to, and for that I love him.