Revisiting ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: How Willow and Xander’s Relationship Was Mishandled


“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” thrived on more than just the adrenaline-pumping vampire hunts; it was the tight-knit camaraderie among the Scooby Gang members that truly added depth to the series. Although Buffy herself was the formidable slayer, Willow and Xander played pivotal roles by consistently offering support, whether through research, diversion tactics, or aiding in confronting nocturnal foes. Their friendship was a beacon of light amidst the looming darkness of apocalyptic threats, but it wasn’t without its own complex dynamics.

The bond between Buffy, Xander, and Willow was the show’s emotional anchor, breaking the tension and injecting levity into the narrative. Yet, within this group dynamic, a tangled love triangle emerged. Xander harbored feelings for Buffy, who didn’t reciprocate, while Willow nursed an enduring crush on Xander, which went unnoticed by him. Although Xander and Buffy never ventured into a romantic relationship (save for an accidental love spell), Willow’s unrequited feelings for Xander added layers of unspoken tension.

It was almost inevitable that the series would explore a relationship between Willow and Xander. Willow’s longstanding crush deserved acknowledgment, but the execution left much to be desired. The missed opportunity to organically develop their romance while they were both single led to a problematic storyline of infidelity. Waiting until Xander was involved with Cordelia and Willow with Oz before exploring their mutual attraction diminished the authenticity of their budding romance.


Their clandestine affair, carried out behind the backs of their partners, Cordelia and Oz, tarnished the characters’ moral standing. The narrative choice to depict this infidelity as the catalyst for Willow and Xander’s romantic exploration felt forced and undercut the show’s potential for a genuine and compelling storyline. Instead of building upon earlier moments that hinted at their connection, the writers opted for a regrettable path that soured the characters’ integrity.

The repercussions of this affair reverberated through subsequent seasons. It fractured relationships, caused turmoil within the group, and altered the dynamics irreversibly. While the characters attempted to reconcile, their friendships never quite recaptured the original charm. Their interactions lacked the previous chemistry, and despite remaining close, there was an undeniable shift in their rapport.

What further compounded the issue was the lack of closure or reflection on their actions. The absence of a meaningful discussion about their choices left loose ends, further undermining the depth of their characters. While it might have been realistic for teenagers to make mistakes, the choice to portray infidelity as a pivotal point in their storylines was a misstep, diminishing the potential for a more nuanced exploration of their relationships.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” had the groundwork for a compelling friends-to-lovers narrative between Willow and Xander. However, the series squandered this potential by resorting to a clichéd cheating storyline, which not only betrayed their partners but also tarnished the essence of their characters. The show missed the chance to delve into their romance authentically, leaving behind a sense of lost opportunity amidst a backdrop of questionable choices and unresolved emotions.