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An Ode To Oz, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Secret Weapon

No shots at Tara.

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Willow Rosenberg is almost certainly one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's best characters. Her development over the course of the series is enormous, and she's also given a couple of truly exceptional love interests. Her first serious relationship doesn't get enough love, and for understandable reasons.

Willow's relationship with Tara, which was both groundbreaking and heartbreaking, gets the brunt of the attention. It's often regarded as the best romance the series had to offer, and that's fair. Still, because of all the buzz that Tara and Willow get, it can be easy to underrate her time with Oz, the quiet werewolf that shows up in season 2 and leaves Willow in tears during season 4.

Oz is part of the Scooby Gang 1.0, which is the version that takes the show through many of its best arcs, including the battle with Angelus, and the conflict with Faith and the Mayor. He's more than just a background player, though. Oz is also the character that first helps Willow break out of her shell. He's with her as she begins to express her own desires and wants, and is completely accepting of her when he returns to find that she's in love with Tara. Oz is a perfect supportive boyfriend, and he's so quiet that Willow never needs to worry about being talked over.

Still, Oz is perhaps best remembered for his dry wit. This is the character that very frankly asks his aunt if his cousin's a werewolf, and is perfectly accepting of all the strangeness that infects his home town. He's just along for the ride, and he's happy to be there. No other character was a better vehicle for comedy over the course of the show's run (with the possible exception of Anya), simply because Oz was so wonderfully dry that almost everything he said was hilarious.

Oz was present as the show really began to pick up dramatic steam, and he was able to provide something close to a running commentary the whole time. He was always willing and ready to fight, and his one-liners always felt true to who he was as a character. Oz was well-written, and marvelously performed by Seth Green. Try NOT to cry when he leaves Willow in season 4 (while it's helpful to remember that Tara is coming, it's not enough). He feels unimportant, and that's part of what makes him so crucial. Next time you're watching an early episode of Buffy, watch Oz, and marvel at how crucial he is to the rhythm of the scene as it unfolds, even if he never says a word.

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