IMHO, the friendship between Buffy, Xander and Willow is one of the most believable friendships you can find on TV. It has many conflicts that the friendship on Friends didn't cover (I've never considered the friendship that was presented in Friends realistic, but that's just my opinion.) Moreover, it's hard to say that this friendship between the three was one of the best friendships … because in there you find betrayal, selfishness and distrust.
So I'm not going to just represent the beauty of this friendship, I'm going also to state the 'bad' stuff.
The real question however is: who's the best out of the three? Who's the one who's better than the other two? Is it Buffy? Did she do more to Xander and Willow to make her a better friend than them? Or is it Xander? Maybe Willow? This is the question I find hard to answer. All of these three had done a lot for this friendship. All of them had failed it too. So really, is there anyone who's better than the other?
Let's start with each one:
Okay, this girl had rescued her friends whenever they were in danger. She risked a lot for their safety, but what about their emotional needs? Was she very useful or tried to be useful for them in that area? Willow once had accused Buffy of being selfish, that all Buffy cared about was herself and having Willow to listen to her problems, what about Willow's problems?
Personally, I think Willow was being unfair. Who's the one who tried to help her to get Xander to notice her? Who's the one who was supportive of her and Oz? Who's the one who was by Willow's side when she had discovered the bodies in Prophecy Girl? That was Buffy! Yes, gotta admit that Willow was more helpful and supportive to Buffy's relationship with Angel, but that doesn't mean that Buffy had never been there for Willow.
Furthermore, Buffy is a better and stronger leader than Xander and Willow. Xander was never confident enough to lead, and we've seen how Willow couldn't handle leading the gang in S6. Also Willow herself asked Kennedy to shut up in Get It Done and let Buffy do her thing, it was a fine example that Willow, even when she's more powerful than Buffy, trusted Buffy's leadership.
Buffy is also a strong confident woman, and she proved that in S7. She had surpassed Xander and Willow with her confidence. After her troop chose Faith over her in Empty Places, she did not hesitate to return back when they needed her, and didn't doubt herself one minute after her faliure earlier. (Um, sure Spike helped her gain her confidence, but she didn't hesitate to go back in one day, that's sure is great confidence.) While it took Willow a whole year and still during Chosen it was obvious that she didn't get her confidence back in using strong magic again.
How about we just go straight ahead to state Buffy's bad qualities in this friendship:
You can not deny her "Me, me, me always about me" attitude. Let's see: Angelus was out killing people, but the only thing Buffy cared about was getting her boyfriend back. Hiding Angel from the gang was another selfish act. The whole thing with Willow and magic, while Xander and Anya were discussing how to make Willow stop, Buffy was more concerned with her thing with Spike. When Dawn gets hurt, everyone should get ready to fight, which is when Buffy feels like it, but when it's Tara, they should stay calm and logical and that was a fight between Buffy and Willow in Tough Love. During Hell's Bells, all what Buffy was talking about was the light in the end of the tunnel, it was frustrating in the end when Willow and Dawn were discussing Xanya, how Buffy commented, "They were my light in the end of the tunnel."
I understand why she'd think that way when usually everything DOES revolve around her, it's always about the Slayer in the end. Besides, it's her own show.
Her "I'm better than you all" attitude was one of the major things that had affected her treatment of her friends. She was yelling at them, telling them what to do like they were nothing but slaves. I'm gonna be fair about it, now Buffy's friends gave her a big reason to think this way, depending on her in everything, expecting her to save them from whatever danger they're in, following her decisions blindly sometimes. The poor girl can't think of herself other than goddess.
Because I use the power that I have. The rest of you are just waiting for me.
Well, yeah, but only because you kinda told us to. You're our leader, Buffy, as in "follow the."
Well, from now on, I'm your leader as in "do what I say."
Ja wohl! But let's not try to forget, we're also your friends.
She always talks about how she had saved her friends all these years as if it was all her, completely forgetting what her friends had done for her over the years. Did she think that without Xander and Willow in her life, she would have gone this far? I'm sure without them she would have ended up another Marcy or stayed dead by The Master. She seemed to dismiss everything Xander and Willow had done for her in the past seven years, and only see what Spike had done. See her comment about Spike being the only one watching her back.
What did Xander and Willow do in S7 to deserve this harsh ungrateful comment? At least to this point, before the whole Empty Places mess. All this season Willow was only agreeing to Buffy's commands and defending her when Kennedy starts bitching. And poor Xander saying a long speech about how great Buffy was, defending her and asking everyone to listen, even when he didn't agree with her plan in Dirty Girls. Having his eye poked and be doomed to stay maimed for the rest of his life. He was completely understanding when Buffy excused herself to leave the hospital, and in the end his reward was "No one is watching my back except for Spike"?
Xander and Willow's worst crime to Buffy's rights:
Bringing Buffy back was the most selfish, irresponsible and horrible deed Buffy's so called friends had done to her. Willow was out of line here, she couldn't bare taking responsibility after Buffy had died, she was too selfish to consider that perhaps Buffy went to a wonderful place. She knew that bringing Buffy back needed the dark magics, knew that Giles and Spike knew better and would have stopped her that was why she didn't tell them, knew that Tara would do anything for her, that she could manipulate Xander into helping and that Anya would be there just for Xander … and did it. I have no sympathies for Willow whatsoever.
Xander also is to blame here, maybe less than Willow, but still. He felt that it was wrong, and he should have gone with what his heart told him like he always did. Yes, he had argued with Willow about not doing it, but he should have told Giles about it when he saw how determined Willow was about not telling Giles, Spike and Dawn. I really believe part of why Xander had went along with it was that he had considered that Buffy was in hell that he would never forgive himself if she had stayed there because he won't help Willow get her out. Because Xander had considered how wrong it was.
And what have they done for her after they have ripped her out of heaven? Nothing. Yes, she did not come to them, but why would she? They were the ones who brought her back. She couldn't just go to them and say "I'm depressed beacuse of what you did."
The biggest insult was that she went to a vampire she hated instead of going to them, talked with a girl (Tara) she barely spoke to before instead of them because they did not reach out to her. They had completely ignored her depression, one for a wedding he did not go through with, and the other to get magic-addicted and try to get her girlfriend back.
For such a flawed character who is usually exposed in bad light, someone would wonder about the moments where Xander shines. Apparently not in his fighting scenes, also not with his 'intelligence', and certainly not in his romantic relationships. Now Xander's finest moments are defiantly concerning the friendship between him, Buffy and Willow.
Xander is probably the most loyal friend among the three. Actually Xander's best qualities are shown through his friendships. Xander is often portrayed as a coward, but when does Xander become one of the bravest character? That's when his friends are in danger. When he just learned about vampires, unlike Willow who couldn't stand because of fear, Xander demanded he go out with Buffy and save Jesse. Xander had threatened Buffy the girl he loved more than anything that he'd kill her, if something happened to Willow because of Buffy's irresponsibility. Among all his friends, Xander was the only one ready to break into the college dorm to save Buffy and Riley in Where the Wild Things Are.
Xander is also the rock, as some people say. Xander is the shoulder you cry on when you need to. Sometimes he forgets about himself when he's hurt to comfort Buffy and Willow. In Beer Bad, when the college boy insulted Xander badly, and Xander noticed Buffy right afterward, instead of wallowing or complaining about it to her, he just asked her if she was okay. When he just lost his eye, he tried to joke and smile to Buffy and Willow to make them feel better when it was him the one who got hurt.
Xander's best speeches are often the ones to his friends. So yeah, through friendship we can see that Xander is loyal, brave, considerate … all the nice qualities. But is Xander prefect in the friendship area? Just like Buffy and Willow, he isn't.
Xander's bad qualities in this friendship:
Double Standards and hypocrisy:
How it's fine to kill Angel even though it was Angelus who did the deeds. But when Willow or Anya start killing people, we hear him say "this is different" and he's going to forgive them and everyone should forgive them 'cause they're "our friends". This is what my friend justwolf called "Blind Loyalty", where Xander can wholeheartedly forgive Buffy for trying to kill them in Normal Again, forgiving Willow for almost destroying the world, but not forgiving Angel and Spike for what their soulless selves had done.
That Buffy had to kill Angel because he's killing innocents, but what about Anya? Wasn't she killing innocents too? She's turning the cheating boyfriends into monsters, and those monsters would be loosed and start killing whoever stood in their way.
Mind you when I'm talking about how 'unfair' killing Angel, I don't mean S2. I'm talking about Xander's lowest moment in the whole show. The episode Revelations.
Okay, he had the right to be angry with Buffy for hiding Angel and not telling them that he's back, he had the right to feel threatened when he saw Buffy so carelessly kissing Angel and probably giving him another 'happy', can't blame him for trying to kill Angel with Faith, many positive points for trying to convince Faith that Angel wasn't the one who hurt Giles… but… this is what I can't justify at all:
Buffy: What happened?
Xander: Your boyfriend's not as cured as you thought.
Buffy: What makes you think that Angel had anything to do with this?
Xander: We saw what you saw.
Buffy: So you just assume?
Xander: I didn't. Faith did.
Buffy: (very worried) What did you tell her?
Xander: Only what everyone knows. She's a big girl. Came to her own conclusions.
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Okay now that was so cheep, Xander. You know Angel had nothing to do with it and now you're lying?! It's a clear sign that he was just trying to hurt Buffy. Very mature.
Xander sometimes can be too short with his friends, his sarcastic comments can be quite hurtful sometimes, especially when he's making fun of Willow in the earlier seasons. I guess it's just a Xander thing. But sometimes Xander can be too cruel, especially when he's right or defending his point of view. When he told Buffy that she's willing to forget all about Miss Calendar's murder to get her boyfriend back, although he was right, it was just unnecessarily cruel. In Dead Man's Party he was too mean to Buffy, even though he didn't come as selfish as Willow, but his harshness and cruelty were very unbearable. What should I say? Like father, like son apparently.
Xander can be quite harsh and in his words "an ass" when it comes to protect his girls. When Willow first started dating Oz, Xander couldn't rest until he proves that Oz isn't good for her, thankfully it only lasted one episode. As for Buffy and her vampiric obsessions, Xander's vampire-complex took over big time in Angel and Spike. With Angel, Xander was in love with Buffy so jealousy was one of the big reasons of his pettiness. As S2 went on and Xander got attracted to Cordelia, he started slowly accepting Buffy and Angel as a couple. Sadly, Buffy decided to lose her virginity and Angelus was released. After that Xander could barely trust Angel again, and things went beyond his jealousy and vampire-complex into pure hatred. Spike was a soulless vampire who, in Xander's mind, just wanted to score points with Buffy by acting all gentle and saving their lives.
Buffy and Willow hurting Xander:
While both girls love him dearly, I just don't think they respect him enough as a man. Sometimes they tend to ignore him and not give him enough credit. The Zeppo was the first sign, Buffy and Willow were too scared for Xander's wellbeing, they couldn't see how much they were hurting him. Their behavior screamed "lack of respect and unappreciation." Overlooking Xander when he recoiled from the blaster in This Year's Girl because obviously Buffy's love life was far more important.
Buffy clearly couldn't see Xander as a grown up or a man who can take care of himself. She thought so little of him and that was shown in Fear, Itself. When Xander suddenly disappeared, Buffy said that it was 'typical' of him to just wander around like a little boy and get lost. Not to mention:
Xander: I'd offer *my* opinion but you jerks aren't gonna hear it anyway. (Buffy walks over to where he is rocking back and forth on the edge of a chair) Not that "didn't go to college" boy has anything important to say. I might as well hang out my new best friend, bleeding dummy head, for all you dorks care.
Buffy yells cruelly: What is wrong with you?!
A second earlier Oz was rocking back and forth too, whispering meaningless words, and Buffy whispered his name gently in a matter of worry. Why yelling at Xander? Why not be gentle with him like she did with Oz? Was Oz the boy who comforted her in The Freshmen when everyone around was ignoring her?
As for Willow, I think after Oz had left her, her respect for men just vanished and took away her respect for her best guy friend. But let's discuss this in the Willow's bad qualities.
Among the three, Willow is the most supportive friend especially to Buffy. People may decline that saying that Buffy was more supportive than Willow, because Willow didn't support Xander's relationships. But let's be fair for a second and say: Was Buffy in love with Xander or Willow? She wasn't, and we've all seen how she handled watching Angel and Faith hugging each other on AtS.
So we have to make a comparison between Willow and Xander. Both Xander and Willow didn't handle shock and rejection well. Xander said some nasty bits to Buffy when she rejected him in Prophecy Girl. Willow acted quite immature when she caught Xander kissing Cordelia. However, it is hard on both, I mean how would you feel if the girl you loved preferred a vampire over you, or the guy you've been in love with for years likes kissing a girl he used to hate more than kissing you, his best friend.
But Willow got better points for helping Xander out with his other dates, while Xander's jealousy took over him whenever Buffy dated a new guy.
A positive point about Willow, she seemed occasionally more mature than Xander and Buffy and that was obvious in the early seasons. I'm not sure we can consider her mature during her relationship with Tara, she did look less mature than Buffy and Xander at that point.
Willow's bad qualities:
While Willow is defiantly shown as the most mature among the three in the first three seasons, she's completely irresponsible. One word: Triangle. Watch this episode and you'll know what I mean. Also using magics behind Giles' back just because she could. Other examples: Doing a de-lusting spell for her and Xander in S3 without Giles knowing, doing that spell in Something Blue, playing with Tara's mind to forget their fight, and the whole mess in Tabula Rasa.
And her worst irresponsible, selfish deed was bringing Buffy back. Her irresponsible actions caused her friends a lot of pain and danger. Buffy's depression in S6, Xander followed by all Sunnydale's demons, almost causing Buffy's sister killed … etc.
Her attitude in the later seasons:
It's mostly towards Xander, I really hate how she lost her respect and thought so little of him. The way she kept thinking of him in a bad light.
WILLOW: Somebody making you feel uncomfortable? Is it Xander? It's Xander, isn't it?
TARA: No, Xander's a sweetie.
ANYA: Xander agreed.
WILLOW: (rudely) Oh, right. Xander doesn't step out of line.
ANYA: (turns to look at her) Well, what do you mean by that?
XANDER: (He gets up and walks to Willow) Will, how about you give me that beer?
WILLOW: No! Why should I? I've got pain, here — big-time legitimate pain.
XANDER: We all have pain, Will.
WILLOW: Oh, like what? "Oh, poor me ... I live in a basement." Yeah, that's dire.
(Xander, offended, just shakes his head and walks back to the table.)
WILLOW: (grimacing) I know. Xander engaged, I couldn't believe it either.
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There are many, but this post is getting a little long. Willow started to have a different attitude towards Xander, but that must be one of the results of her development. She's not the same pushover anymore. I also get the feeling that Xander's personality began to get weaker season after season, maybe because he's the weakest one, I mean in season 2 Xander used to have the same rude attitude towards Willow. He was stronger than her back then.
When you think about it, beside Willow turning evil in S6, she had always been supportive and gentle to Buffy. She rarely criticized her other than Dead Man's Party and Tough Love, I can't remember Willow being snarky to Buffy. Maybe some episodes in S4 but somehow Willow had a special treatment for Buffy. She never told Buffy what she needed to hear, only what she thought Buffy wanted to hear. She only raised her voice to people who do dare to criticize Buffy, including Giles, Angel and Xander. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing.
Controlling other people and fate:
She slyly wanted to control things, including her friends. When something didn't go like she wanted, she reverted to magic to make things go her way. She couldn't accept fate, couldn't accept that people die, and couldn't keep things to rest. She did a lot to have Buffy and Tara back alive because she couldn't face lost like mature people do. Basically most of her actions in S6 are about control, trying to have things go as she liked, not caring about people's opinions or feelings. She wanted Buffy to stop being depressed so she tried to control her by doing a spell to make her forget about it. She wanted Tara not to be angry with her so she began fixing things the way she liked, by playing with her mind. When things don't go well with her for example when she took Giles' powers and afterwards couldn't be able to handle all the suffering and pain of people around the world, she decides to end the world so "her suffering" would end.
Buffy and Xander using Willow for their own good:
Buffy and Xander seemed to think of Willow as reliable. She's their first choice to help when they're stuck. I'm not only talking about magic. I'm also talking about emotional support. Xander did her wrong in the earlier seasons. When he asked her to be his date once Buffy said no, as in "You're my second or perhaps last choice" was very cruel of him, and why was he upset about Willow's rejection anyway? Okay, let's say he didn't know by that point about her crush on him, but what about When She Was Bad? Xander was completely using her when Buffy wasn't around to serve his selfish needs, but once Buffy was back, poor old Willow was all forgotten.
Buffy was also using Willow's blind support to her when everyone was trying to call her on her actions. Willow never disappointed Buffy. It's also sad when Buffy dumps her for Faith in S3, Willow is Buffy's best friend, no doubt about it, but sometimes it seems that Buffy takes complete advantage of Willow's support. You all should watch Empty Places, when Willow stated that she was not on Buffy's side, see how shocked Buffy's face was, it's priceless.
Okay, I'm sure there are lots of bad qualities, but I only mentioned three for each one, I'm sure there are lots of people arguing against me. I'm not sure if I was fair to our three lovable Scoobs. But now I'm tired of writing and here's my subject. Read please *insecure voice*