Of all the members of the Scooby Gang in the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, no one has felt more left out than Xander Harris, and that’s even truer after he was recently turned into a vampire. Xander has generally been seen as Buffy’s other friend in the trio who, story-wise, never has much going for himself beyond that. Compared to Willow or Buffy’s other friends, there are long periods during the show where Xander has almost nothing to do, to the point that sometimes it becomes part of the character.
Most of his development comes from having an undefined role in the Scooby Gang, like in Season 3’s “The Zeppo,” a filler episode about Xander trying to prove he’s more than useless or consumable within the group. Most of his storylines see him either searching for an identity or, more controversially, when Xander dates Buffy’s sister Dawn in the comic canon sequels. It’s always been clear that the show had a harder time writing Xander than other characters, but he seems to have reached his full potential when he’s rebranded as a vampire.
In the BOOM! The studios comics focused on another Buffyverse, Xander feels useless among his most amazing friends when he allows himself to be spawned by Drusilla in Jordie Bellaire and Dan Mora’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4. Since Drusilla does not complete the generation, he is initially a half-vampire struggling to maintain his humanity before eventually progressing as an antagonist once humanity is completely lost. This leads to Xander creating his own cult and becoming this universe’s version of the Master until Faith casts him in Buffy the Vampire Slayer #24 by Jeremy Lambert and Ramon Bachs. This arc was enough to fix Buffy’s Xander character.
Being a vampire gives Xander a purpose
This bow from BOOM! Studios finds a way to fix the constant problem the series had with not giving much to Xander, while still sticking to the core characteristics that Xander has always been about. The insecurities that drive him up against Drusilla stick to the character’s basic structure, while opening the door to something entirely new. Making him half-human, half-vampire helps provide real challenges for Xander to learn and grow.
Even when he becomes a major villain, Xander deeply desires to rekindle his friendship with Willow despite his villainy. Admittedly, one of his last plans before his death is to bind Willow to his side forever, as his servant Growly alludes to in Lambert and Bach’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer #23. Xander and Willow are so tightly bonded and Xander’s loneliness becomes so overwhelming that he just wants to go back to how things used to be between him and his best friend. Even when the things he’s done as a vampire, like kidnapping Jenny Calendar, rule out redemption, seeing Xander grapple with his newly twisted sense of affection makes for gripping reading.
What made the show’s lack of direction so disappointing for him was that it ultimately made Alex a one-dimensional character. However, the comics turning Xander Harris into a vampire helps add dimensions and complexities to his character that weren’t initially there when he was the third wheel of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.