Willow Danielle Rosenberg (born in 1982 in Sunnydale, California) is a fictional character created by Joss Whedon for the cult television program, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Willow was played originally by Riff Regan in the unaired pilot of the show. more...
However, she was replaced by Alyson Hannigan who played the role for all 144 episodes of the series. She also appeared as Willow in three episodes of the show's spin-off, Angel. In Season 7's "The Killer In Me", where the character was involved in an magical identity crisis, Willow was portrayed by Adam Busch.
Willow Danielle Rosenberg was born in 1982 in Sunnydale, California to Sheila and Ira Rosenberg and became their only child. Her supercilious and unaffectionate mother, a psychologist, appeared in one episode, "Gingerbread" (Season 3). Willow appears to have inherited from her a strong sense of political injustice, reflected particularly in her attitudes towards Native Americans. Her father, never seen, is hinted to be equally as distant. Her middle name was revealed in the script of "Bad Girls" (Season 3) - "If my parents hadn't settled on "Danielle," Danger would be my middle name".
Willow first appeared in the series opener, "Welcome To The Hellmouth", where she is introduced as a shy, socially inept nerd with little confidence. Her apparent sexual innocence and mostly lightly risqué statements provided much humour in the show's earlier seasons. A member of the Math Club, the Science Club and the Computer Club and with a reputation as the person to go to for tutoring help, she was ridiculed by her more popular classmates, including cheerleaders Cordelia Chase and Harmony Kendall. However, Willow's scientific intelligence and computer hacking abilities are legendary. She was one of only two students selected to be interviewed by an unnamed but very prestigious computer-software company and was chosen to substitute for computer-science teacher, Jenny Calendar, after she was murdered. She also had a hopeless crush on her lifelong, childhood friend Xander Harris, who ignored her to pursue his own equally hopeless crush on Buffy and later a relationship with Cordelia Chase (despite the fact that he and Willow were charter members of the "We Hate Cordelia Chase" Club and he was the treasurer).
By the third season, Willow blossomed in her relationship as the best friend of the Slayer and as a pivotal member of the Slayerettes, becoming a devoted Wiccan. She developed more satisfying, romantic relationship with Oz, a guitarist in the local band Dingoes Ate My Baby. The relationship survived her discovery that Oz was a werewolf, and a more trying crisis when Willow and Xander had a brief romantic liaison.
After graduation, Willow and Buffy moved across town to Room 213, Stevenson Hall at UC Sunnydale. After Oz's dramatic departure, Willow attended some meetings of the campus Wicca group, a disappointing experience except for the presence of one student, Tara Maclay. After discovering their magic was more powerful if they performed in unison, they became friends, and later, lovers and soulmates. Willow's bisexuality and romantic interest in women had been hinted at as early as the Season 3 episode "Doppelgängland" when her vampire Doppelgänger from an alternative reality showed a distinct lust for the "real" Willow. Some fans argue that Willow's later self-identification as a lesbian consists of a retcon, as she manifested a crush for Xander early on in the series and established a long-running and sexually active relationship with Oz, before affirming herself as a lesbian. Others, however, view this as a matter of repression and eventual admission, to herself and others. A simpler explanation is that she's bisexual. Willow and Tara formed one of the very few lesbian couples portrayed in American television.
Willow's magickal skills first peaked in "Bargaining", the opening episode of the sixth season, where she joined with other members of the Scooby Gang to raise Buffy from the dead. Afterwards, she became obsessed with using magick constantly, which was portrayed as being analogous to a drug addiction. Her magick addiction (and irresponsible use of magick; at one point erasing the memories of all the Scoobies) eventually led to Tara leaving her, and Buffy's sister Dawn being gravely injured; and it was the emotional consequences of this that finally forced Willow to attempt to give up magic for good. Late in the sixth season, Willow's fury at Tara's tragic death unleashed the dark energies once again, and her vengeance reached a climax when Willow magickally murdered Warren, Buffy's nemesis, who had (accidentally) fatally shot Tara. Willow's rage continued until she became so powerful that she attempted to cause an apocalypse. She was saved in the end by her friend Xander.
Willow would not make another attempt to abandon the use of all magick. Rather, she was forced to deal with her magickal nature, and come to grips with her place in the universe. This is evidenced in an important crossover in which she magically battles Jasmine, the then-current villain on Angel, while trying to restore Angel's soul and wins. After her battle, she returns from Los Angeles with Faith, an important character during the seventh season. Willow slowly regained control of her powers and entered a new relationship with the potential Slayer Kennedy. In the concluding episode of the final season "Chosen", it is through Willow's magick that the potential Slayers are turned into full Slayers and are able to destroy The First Evil's army of ubervamps, saving the world. During her performance of this magickal process, Willow temporarily has a goddess-like appearance, as Kennedy, who is assisting her, remarks. This could be a reference to the common magickal ritual of Godform Assumption, in which the mage or witch attempts to merge their soul with a spirit, usually a God.
Powers & Abilities
Willow became a skilled practitioner of witchcraft from the series' third season onwards. Her interest in the Wiccan religion lies more in the spellcasting portion rather than the faith itself. It's possible that the Buffyverse sees Wicca as a methodology or practice and not a religion per se. During the 2nd and 3rd seasons Willow would occasionally comment on being Jewish ("Bad Eggs", "The Wish").
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