Alexander LaVelle "Xander" Harris is a fictional character portrayed by Nicholas Brendon on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The character is one of the three major supporting characters that have been with Buffy Summers since the very first episode. The other two are Willow Rosenberg portrayed by Alyson Hannigan and Rupert Giles portrayed by Anthony Stewart Head. He is a part of the inner-circle of support that keeps Buffy grounded despite all the craziness surrounding them. Though powerless beyond that of the average human, he has saved Buffy's life on a few occasions, and is known among fans of the series as The Loyal.
XANDER: Buffy, this is all about fear. It's understandable, but you can't let it control you. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to anger... no wait... Fear leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side... hold on... Hate... no First you get the women, then you get the money, then you get... okay forget that.
BUFFY: Well, thanks for the dada-ist pep talk. I feel much more abstract.
XANDER: The point is, you're Buffy!
When first we see Xander, he's skateboarding down the sidewalk towards high school, and sees Buffy for the first time. Immediately he crashes into a stair rail and hits the ground. Since that lust at first sight Xander has been a part of Buffy's life. Though always a friend, early in their relationship he tried unsuccessfully to be her love interest. Over the years their relationship evolved into something akin to a brother sister relationship. In many ways they depend on each other. Utterly blinded by his endearment, as far as Xander is concerned Buffy can do no wrong, even when she does.
XANDER: Well, we could ask some questions over at Willy's place.
BUFFY: Or, we could be smart. (doubletakes) Sorry, Xander.
XANDER: (oblivious) What?
Near the end of the first season, Buffy fought against a powerful vampire named The Master and was left for dead. Xander and Angel discovered her limp body, face down in a puddle of icky goop. Angel, being a vampire, couldn't give her CPR because he didn't have any breath. So Xander gave Buffy mouth to mouth and brought her back to life.
Of the main characters of the series, the characters who have known one another the longest are Xander and Willow. They attended grade school together and know one another intimately. Well, platonically intimately. For a brief time they even experimented with a romantic relationship, but it didn't work out. This was partially due to the fact that Willow was dating Oz and Xander was dating Cordelia Chase at the same time they started feeling things for one another. Despite that, Xander and Willow remained good friends.
Xander doesn't have particularly good taste in women. He once flirted with a teacher who turned out to be a big preying mantis. He also dated a foreign exchange student who was really a briefly rejuvenated mummy who sucked the life out of people in order to remain young and immortal. Xander lost his virginity to Faith who turned out to betray him, Buffy, and all their friends. Cordelia looked like a catch on the outside but she was shallow, selfish, and interacted with other people in a way similar to sulfur interacting with iodine. Then in season three, Xander found himself in a romantic relationship with an ex vengeance demon named Anyanka. Ironically, that turned out to be his longest-lasting, most successful relationship with any women. They even almost got married. Unfortunately he left her at the altar when he got cold feet, which was a very bad idea considering she was a vengeance demon. She got her powers back and tried to kill him but, lucky for him, that didn't work out.
Come to think of it, that might be Xander's special power. Sheer luck. All Xander's friends have special abilities of one form or another but Xander's only ability is to manage to often avoid death but just barely. Whereas others in his situation would probably actually die, Xander just manages to get picked up by a brute bad guy and thrown across the room into some boxes or something. By the way, Nicholas Brendon's stunt double is his twin brother. There's only one other thing that one might be able to say is a special ability. Once Xander dressed up in a magically cursed Halloween costume of a military officer, and the magic spell temporarily brainwashed him into thinking he was a military officer. Though the spell wore off, Xander remembered all the military knowledge for years afterwards. However, then Riley showed up who was a real military officer and so Xander's special ops knowledge became rather redundant.
Xander's relationships with other characters among Buffy's entourage are quite versatile. Giles sees him as a man who has potential but often falls short. Xander dislikes Angel and Spike but that's predominantly because 1) they're vampires and 2) they get to make out regularly with Buffy and she looks at Xander like he's chopped liver. Buffy's sister Dawn Summers looks up to Xander, and for awhile she had a crush on him. Overall, Xander finds himself spending a lot of his free time with Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Anya and the others, and occasionally realizes he doesn't have any real 'guy' friends. He and Oz were friends for awhile, but then Oz turned into a werewolf and had to go to Tibet.
Although the television series focuses on Buffy, and Xander's place in the storyline is usually as a supporting player, there have been a number of episodes that were "Xandercentric," meaning they focused mostly on his character. Some of the more memorable Xandercentric episodes include The Pack, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, The Zeppo, The Replacement, and Hell's Bells. Of all one hundred and forty-four episodes of the seven season television series, Xander Harris is absent in only one: Conversations With Dead People is "Xanderless."
Predominantly, Xander's major problem is a lack of self-esteem. He feels inadequate compared to his more powerful friends, but when push comes to shove in high stress situations, Xander usually puts the safety and well-being of others before himself, which makes him the most unique of heroes. Anyone can jump into the fray if they got lots of firepower to back them up. Xander jumps into the fray even without anything to back him up. Yeah, that makes him pretty stupid, but it also makes him pretty courageous. He's a rock that the others may take for granted, but they also depend on him being there. Xander Harris is the heart of Buffy's inner circle.