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Willow Rosenberg
WillowRosenberg.jpg
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
First appearance "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
Created by Joss Whedon
Statistics
Full name Willow Rosenberg
Affiliation Scooby Gang
Sunnydale High
Notable powers

Witchcraft

Portrayed by  Alyson Hannigan
Kari Wahlgren
Riff Regan

Willow Danielle Rosenberg is a fictional character created by Joss Whedon for the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was portrayed by Alyson Hannigan, who also played the character in three episodes of the show's spin-off Angel, the pilot for Buffy the Animated Series, and the first console video game. Hannigan was unavailable for the game Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds and was replaced by Kari Wahlgren.

Willow is the show's only major character known to be Jewish,[1] and later was one of the most prominent lesbian characters in American television. In 2007, AOL named her the second greatest witch in television history, behind Samantha Stephens of Bewitched.[2]

Contents

Appearances

Television

Willow is introduced in Buffy's first episode "Welcome to the Hellmouth", wherein Willow befriends new Sunnydale High student Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Throughout the first season (1997) of Buffy, Willow assists Buffy in her duties as Slayer after Buffy's Watcher, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) introduces her to the world of vampires and demons, and she pines for the love of best friend Xander (Nicholas Brendon) who is enamored of Buffy. In the show's second season (1997–1998), after accepting Xander does not return her feelings, Willow develops a relationship with werewolf and musician Oz (Seth Green). After the death of Giles' technopagan girlfriend Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte), Willow begins to follow in her footsteps by studying witchcraft. When Buffy's heroic vampire boyfriend Angel (David Boreanaz) loses his soul, and reverts to his evil 'Angelus' personality, Willow is the one to restore it magically in the second season finale "Becoming, Part Two". The third season (1998–1999) sees Willow begin to become more heavily interested in magic; she, fellow witch Amy Madison (Elizabeth Anne Allen) and Buffy become the target of a witch-hunt, the evil vampire Spike (James Marsters) tries to make Willow cast a love spell on the vampire Drusilla (Juliet Landau), and she magically aids Buffy against the Mayor (Harry Groener) and rogue vampire Slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku). After Amy transforms herself into a rat, Willow keeps her as a pet until she can find a way to reverse the spell. Willow and Oz briefly break up when she cheats on him with Xander; they reconcile and Willow eventually loses her virginity to him. The third season also sees Willow encounter her evil vampire counterpart from another universe, and is shocked to see this version of her is "kinda gay". Despite being accepted to universities such as Oxford, Harvard and Yale, Willow opts to attend UC Sunnydale so she can continue to assist Buffy in the future.

In the fourth season (1999–2000), Willow is seen flourishing in university life, and while not initially Buffy's roommate, the two later share a dormitory. Willow's heart is broken when Oz cheats on her with another werewolf, the musician Veruca (Paige Moss) in the episode "Wild at Heart"; they break up and Oz moves away. In the episode "Something Blue", Willow casts a spell to make her pain go away which goes awry. Witnessing the chaos she caused, the demon D'Hoffryn (Andy Umberger) offers to make Willow into a vengeance demon but she refuses. In the next episode, Willow attends a meeting of a campus Wiccan group and meets a shy girl named Tara (Amber Benson), who seems to be the only other real witch there, and the two become friends. In later episodes, they realise they have fallen in love and Willow eventually comes out to Buffy. In the same episode however, Oz returns in an attempt to reconcile with Willow, but Willow loves Tara now and he leaves once again. In the Angel season two episode "Disharmony", Willow reveals to Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) via phonecall her best friend Harmony (Mercedes McNab) is now a vampire. For Buffy season four's penultimate episode, Willow casts a spell which shares her magic, Giles' intelligence, Xander's compassion and the power of the First Slayer (Sharon Ferguson) with Buffy so that she can defeat Adam (George Hertzberg). In the fifth season (2000–2001), Willow continues to assist Buffy against the evil goddess Glory (Clare Kramer) and in protecting Buffy's little sister, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) because Dawn is the mystical "key" Glory seeks. In the episode "Triangle", Willow feuds with Xander's girlfriend Anya (Emma Caulfield), and Anya's ex troll god Olaf (Abraham Benrubi) tries to make Xander choose between them. Willow is enraged when Glory drives Tara insane, and tries to defeat her single-handedly by tapping into dangerous magics for the first time, but fails. In the last three episodes of the season, Willow's power grows even greater: she erects a magical barrier to protect Dawn from Glory, she enters Buffy's mind to rescue her from her catatonic state, and gets her revenge on Glory in the finale, "The Gift". In the finale, Willow ambushes Glory and restores Tara's sanity with a spell which also disorients the goddess, and telepathically co-ordinates the rest of the gang so they may save Dawn. To save Dawn, Buffy sacrifices her own life. Willow travels to L.A. to inform Angel of Buffy's death in Angel's concurrent second season finale, "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb".

The sixth season (2001–2002) begins with Willow now leading the "Scooby Gang" sans Buffy. Committed to bringing her friend back from the dead, Willow resurrects Buffy using very dark magic for which Giles later criticizes her. Willow and Tara argue due to Willow's over-active use of magic, and Willow goes so far as to erase Tara's memories of the argument magically. Tara discovers Willow's betrayal, and when Willow performs another memory spell giving the entire Scooby Gang complete amnesia (though originally meant to erase Buffy and Tara's negative memories of what her spells did to them) in "Tabula Rasa", Tara breaks up with her. Mid-season, Willow goes off the deep end after she becomes powerful enough to turn Amy human again. Amy begins taking Willow to sorcery dealer Rack (Jeff Kober). When her carelessness leaves Dawn hospitalized, Willow finally realizes she has a problem, begs Buffy for help, fights the symptoms of withdrawal, and tells Amy they are no longer friends. Willow and Tara finally reconcile in "Entropy" but their joy is short-lived when in the next episode, Warren (Adam Busch) inadvertently shoots and kills Tara while trying to kill Buffy. Willow relapses and her grief pushes her over the edge, taking in evil magics and becoming black-haired and veiny. This new "Dark Willow" kills Warren by flaying him alive, and attempts to kill his acolytes, Andrew (Tom Lenk) and Jonathan (Danny Strong) before attempting to end all pain by destroying the world. She defeats Buffy in battle, as well as the magically-infused Giles; the world is only saved in the season finale "Grave" when Xander tells her how much he loves her, and she is finally forced to confront her pain. Season seven (2002–2003) begins with Willow living in England with Giles, learning to control her power. Her magical subconscious initially punishes Willow because she is afraid her friends will never forgive her. She returns too afraid to use magic to assist Buffy, even in the face of the omnipresent First Evil. When she transforms into the appearance of Warren, Willow feels it is because her subconscious is punishing her for her attraction to potential Slayer Kennedy (Iyari Limon), but it is actually due to Amy's vengeful magic; feeling she has let Tara rest, Willow begins to date Kennedy. She gradually becomes confident positively using her powers in small amounts but is forced to push them when brought to fight against a possessed Cordelia and again re-ensoul Angel in the Angel season four episode "Orpheus". In the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Chosen", Buffy urges Willow to perform a spell which will empower all the world's potential Slayers. Willow does not succumb to evil while casting the spell, but her hair turns white signifying a magical cleansing of sorts. The Slayer Army defeats the First, destroying the Hellmouth and with it the entirety of depopulated Sunnydale.

Between 2001 and 2004, Joss Whedon and Jeph Loeb developed a 4-minute pilot episode for Buffy the Animated Series, which was set during the show's first season. Had the series been picked up by a network, it would have featured Willow (voiced by Alyson Hannigan) in more high school adventures. Following a 2008 leak of the pilot to YouTube, Loeb expressed some hope the series may be resurrected in some form.[3]

Literature

Willow on a cover for the comic book continuation Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. Art by Jo Chen.

In the comic book continuation of Buffy, Willow arrives in Scotland to assist Buffy and her Slayers against attacks by zombies unleashed by Amy Madison (cf. "The Long Way Home"). During the battle, Amy tries to infect Willow with dark magic, but Willow manages to overcome it. Amy suddenly kidnaps Willow and presents her to a skinless Warren. Willow takes mental refuge in a plane of elemental beings while Warren lobotomizes her. When Buffy releases her, Willow has already fully healed. Willow revisits Kennedy and the two dispute about why Willow distances her from Buffy. Willow admits she fears that by being around Buffy, Kennedy's life will be jeopardized like Tara's. A demon presents Buffy a glimpse of this dispute, complicating her relationship with Willow (cf. "Anywhere but Here").

In "Wolves at the Gate", Willow travels to Tokyo with the rest of the Scoobies to fight the Japanese vampire gang and recover the Scythe. While in Tokyo, Willow uses a spell to bring giant Dawn to the city and distract the vampires. In the last issue of the arc, Willow fights Kumiko, the witch from the vampire gang; Kumiko reveals to her she is also a student of Saga Vasuki, a mysterious half-snake demon. In a hallucination, induced by Kumiko, Saga Vasuki is able to communicate with Willow, and tells her she can’t hide from her or from what she is. Later, Willow follows Dracula’s instructions to cast a spell and strip all the vampires of their powers. At the end of the last issue of the arc, Willow is seen invoking Saga Vasuki.

Willow reunites with Kennedy when she and Buffy go to New York in "Time of Your Life". After Buffy accidentally travels forward to 200 years in the future and meets its current slayer Melaka Fray, a future Willow, driven insane and practicing dark magicks once again, is allied with Fray's nemesis and brother Harth. Encountering Fray on her own, she convinces her of the necessity to destroy Buffy. In her attempts to rescue Buffy, present-day Willow is forced to commune with Saga Vasuki once more; the tone of their relationship is a sexual one, and Willow is visibly racked with guilt in the presence of Kennedy. Saga Vasuki warns Willow not to look forward into the future when she rescues Buffy from it. The future Willow attempts to prevent Buffy's rescue, and Buffy is forced to kill her. Immediately afterward, a blindfolded Willow pulls Buffy through a time rift. It is then implied that future Willow has engineered the occurrence to give Buffy the opportunity to kill her, also implying that only Buffy (with the scythe) can kill her.

Other media

Willow has also appeared in Buffy expanded universe material. She appears in most of the Buffy comics and novels, most notably her mini-series Willow & Tara. She is a playable character in the 2003 video game Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds.

Willow was featured as a protagonist and ally in the first published adventure for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, The Dark Druid. The adventure features Fionn mac Cumhaill and his battle with the druid Fer Doirich in the modern age and posits the witches Willow and Tara are the reincarnations of Fionn's foster mothers Bodhmall and Liath respectively.[4]

Reception

In 2008, AOL named her the 2nd greatest witch in television history.[5]. Willow was voted as number 4 at UGO Entertainment's Top 50 character for TV and is the only one from the Buffy series to be on the list.[6]

In How I Met Your Mother, the special thanksgiving episode depicts Lily, also portrayed by Hannigan, having a "you're dead to me look" as a homage to Dark Willow. The look, which vaporizes subjects under her glaring eyes, is a reference to the eyes Dark Willow has.[7]

Sexuality

Although Willow had previously been established as a "straight girl," pining after Xander and enjoying a long-term relationship with Oz, there are hints of her being at least bisexual in the episode "Doppelgangland" when she meets her vampire alter ego.

Willow: "That's me as a vampire? I'm so evil and... skanky. [aside to Buffy, worried] And I think I'm kinda gay."
Buffy: [reassuringly] "Willow, just remember that a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person that it was."
Angel: [without thinking] "Well, actually... [off Buffy's look] That's a good point."

However, in an interview with the BBC Jane Espenson said Buffy creator Joss Whedon had no idea he was going to make the character of Willow a lesbian at the time of writing that episode.[citation needed] He had in fact always considered seeing Willow OR Xander experiment with their sexuality, but it was not until well into the series that Willow became the clear choice for Joss.

Willow and Tara's first on-screen kiss in the episode "The Body".

In Season Four, following Oz's departure, Willow secretly performs spells with fellow Wiccan Tara, but there are hints they are more than just friends. The first confirmation their relationship is romantic in nature comes in the episode "Who Are You". Since coming out in Season Four, the Willow character became one of the most prominent lesbian characters in pop culture, having enjoyed the longest-running lesbian relationship on network television, lasting approximately two and a half seasons. Willow and Tara earned a dedicated fan base of gay and bisexual viewers who were inspired by the characters.[8]

However, broadcasting constraints from the WB meant, unlike the heterosexual characters, Willow and Tara were not allowed to be shown in any sexual scenes.[citation needed] The couple did not have their first on-screen kiss until the Season Five episode, "The Body", almost a year after their relationship began (the context of the scene involved Tara comforting Willow after the death of Joyce Summers). This changed significantly when Buffy switched networks to the more lenient UPN, with Willow and Tara shown kissing, sharing a bed, and even having implied oral sex (cf. "Once More, with Feeling"). The character of Willow continued to break new ground when, in the Season Seven episode "Touched", she was seen having sex with her new girlfriend Kennedy, in the first lesbian sex scene on network television.[9] It is worth noting this relationship is the only one involving one of the "core four" (Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles), to survive the series, all previous relationships having come to a tragic end one way or the other.

Willow's alter ego in "Doppelgangland" displays overt bisexuality, with Willow forming strong heterosexual relationships across the first three seasons of Buffy. She also comments upon Dracula's sexiness, likely caused by Dracula's thrall over people, in "Buffy vs. Dracula", and even reveals a former crush on Giles after seeing him sing with his guitar at the coffee shop. Later in the series, Willow's relationship with dealer Rack takes on sexual overtones, although it is mostly because of the magic he gives her. However, Willow does make her preferences clear. In "Him", as one of the many women under RJ Brooks' love spell, she seeks to transform him into a woman. Discussing the conquests of best friend Xander in "The Long Way Home, Part Three", Willow teasingly says even she "went in for smoochies" before reiterating "and I don't truck with the stubbly crowd."

A new species of sea slug found on the West Coast, Alderia willowi, was named after this character in a tongue-in-cheek tribute due to Alderia willowi's rare reproductive dimorphism and Willow's own unique sexuality shifts during various seasons and episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Powers and abilities

For the first two seasons of the show, Willow's major "powers" were her intelligence and computer skills. She aids Giles as he researches information to aid Buffy in overcoming various challenges.

Willow's first major spell involves re-cursing Angel with a soul, a feat she later repeats. She learns to levitate a pencil early in her senior year, and her powers continue to develop until she is casting powerful spells independently and with the help of Tara Maclay, a more experienced witch. Soon she surpasses Tara in skill, able to draw enough power to fend off the hell-god Glory, even though her power decreased in a matter of minutes; soon after Buffy had to rescue her before Glory could stab Willow with her own knife.[10]

In season 6, Willow demonstrates the ability to bring Buffy back to life, leaving her drained but regaining her magic in a few hours.[11] Her friend Amy Madison introduces her to a warlock, Rack, who gives her the ability to go longer and do more spells. Magic becomes an addiction, and Willow becomes increasingly irresponsible in its use. When her carelessness puts Dawn in danger (breaking her arm), Willow gives up magic for a time.

Upon Tara's death, magic and despair consume Willow and she nearly destroys the world. It is at this time that Anya describes Willow as "the most powerful Wicca in the Western Hemisphere." Willow is capable of a level of superhuman strength (allowing her to go head-to-head with Buffy in a physical confrontation), flying, absorbing energy from others, teleportation, curing herself and others instantly at will, unleashing powerful energy blasts, locating people and objects at a distance, and exerting powerful levels of telekinesis and telepathic mind control.[12]

Willow spends time at a coven in England with Giles where she develops a better understanding of magic, balance, etc. At this point, she is so powerful that her feelings and thoughts can unconsciously have magical effects.[13] Amy comments that other practitioners "work twice as hard to be half as good" as Willow. Willow casts a spell that imbues all Potential Slayers on Earth with Slayer powers (formerly granted to only one girl at a time), temporarily turning Willow's eyes and hair crystal white in the process (when she was "evil" her hair and eyes were dark). Kennedy remarks on it by calling her "a goddess."[14]

Willow's powers have greatly expanded since these events. She can now fly by force of will and is able to project vast amounts of energy from her fingertips and cast powerful spells. She is able to heal extreme injuries, including her own partial lobotomy (although she does comment even that ability is not infinite). The Season Eight time travel storyline "Time of Your Life" depicts Dark Willow as powerful, alive and youthful hundreds of years into the future, though unable to cast spells of much power.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Amends". Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The WB. 1998-11-15. No. 10, season 3.
  2. ^ "AOL - Top TV Witches". http://television.aol.com/photos/tv-witches. 
  3. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (2008-08-26). "‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Animated Series To Be Resurrected?". MTV Movies Blog. MTV.com. http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2008/08/26/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-animated-series-to-be-resurrected/. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  4. ^ "The Dark Druid" by Brannan, Timothy S., Games Unplugged (July 2002), p. 25
  5. ^ AOL - Top TV Witches
  6. ^ UGO Entertainment's Top 50 character for TV
  7. ^ http://www.tvfanatic.com/2009/11/how-i-met-your-mother-review-slapsgiving-2-revenge-of-the-slap/
  8. ^ How Buffy changed the world of lesbians on television
  9. ^ Buffy to show first Lesbian Sex Scene on Broadcast TV
  10. ^ Tough Love (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  11. ^ Bargaining (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  12. ^ Two to Go
  13. ^ Same Time, Same Place
  14. ^ Chosen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)







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