Nicholas Brendon was born Nicholas Brendon Schultz on April 12, 1971 in Los Angeles, three minutes after his identical twin brother, Kelly Donovan.
As a youth, he aspired to become a professional baseball player, but he "lost the passion for it" at 20. Instead, he decided to pursue acting in an attempt to overcome his stuttering problem, which had first become apparent at age 7 or 8, and had made him so fearful of speaking or interacting with strangers that he did not begin dating until 21 or 22. Brendon comments: "Every day I still have to remind myself to slow down and concentrate. Constant repetition of tongue-twisters was like lifting weights for me, but patience and persistence have paid off."
He gave up acting after two years because he "couldn't stand the politics in Hollywood." Brendon returned to school to study medicine, which didn't work out; he also tried his hand at a variety of odd jobs, including plumber's assistant, veterinary janitor, day care counselor, waiter, and production assistant for the television show Dave's World.
At the age of 25, Brendon decided to return to acting. He signed with a manager and obtained the role of Xander Harris on Buffy the Vampire Slayer three months later. He appeared in all but one of the 144 episodes in the series, and even shared the screen with his twin, Kelly Donovan, when his character was split in two in the fifth-season episode "The Replacement".
After the series ended in 2003, Brendon joined the cast of the Fox television pilot The Pool at Maddy Breakers. The series was not picked up by the network. In 2004, he co-starred in his first ABC Family movie, Celeste in the City. The following year, he returned to Fox as part of the cast of Kitchen Confidential, based on the book by chef Anthony Bourdain. Thirteen episodes were made, but the series was cancelled on December 9 of the same year, after the fourth episode aired with low ratings.
In 2006, he voiced Huntsboy #89 for season 2 of the animated series American Dragon: Jake Long. That same year, he reunited with his former Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Charisma Carpenter in the ABC Family TV movie Relative Chaos.
From July 26 through August 30, 2006, Brendon co-starred with Noah Wyle in the play Lobster Alice at the Blank Theatre Company in Los Angeles. He subsequently appeared in the Blank Theatre's annual Young Playwrights Festival and its productions of The SantaLand Diaries (November 20–December 20, 2009), and Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.
On September 29, 2010, he premiered his web comic Very Bad Koalas, co-created with animation director/producer Steve Loter. The comic follows the journey of two sheltered and innocent koalas experiencing a variety of people and places while on the run from the law in a 1958 Cadillac El Dorado.
On October 28, 2010, Brendon began a four-episode arc on ABC's Private Practice playing Lee McHenry, a mentally disturbed man who assaults Charlotte King.
In 2007, Nicholas began appearing on the TV series Criminal Minds in the recurring role of FBI technical analyst Kevin Lynch. He has appeared in episodes in each season since, through the seventh-season finale in 2012.
On 2014, Brendon was part of a summit for writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, which included Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, Drew Greenberg, Andrew Chambliss, and Christos Gage. He was involved with the show's canonical comic book series Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten, on stories centering on his character.
Beginning in 2019, Nicholas discovered painting and is now offering artwork, photography, and merchandise under the "Slightly Askew by Nicholas Brendon" label.
In July of 2020, Nicholas landed the lead role of Douglas Paynter in the feature film Wanton Want by filmmaker Joston Ramon Theney. While details are still forthcoming, the film is described as "a fantastical journey of self-discovery." The film also stars Phillip Andre Botello who was last seen in 2019's theatrical release of The Art of Self Defense.
Brendon has done work for the Stuttering Foundation of America, which approached him around 2001, and made him its honorary chairperson for its National Stuttering Awareness Week in May 2001, May 2002 and May 2003.
On April 25, 2004, at a Buffy fan convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Brendon announced that he had voluntarily entered rehab for alcoholism.
In the early morning of March 17, 2010 Brendon was tasered and arrested by Los Angeles police, who confronted Brendon in response to a call about an intoxicated individual. He was later charged with four misdemeanors, including one count of resisting arrest, two counts of battery against a police officer, and one count of vandalism.
In May 2010, Brendon checked himself into the SOBA Recovery Center in Malibu to address his addiction to alcohol and sleeping pills. On June 19, 2010, Brendon pleaded no contest to all four charges and received a one-year suspended jail sentence, was placed on probation for 36 months, and was required to perform 10 days of community service.
Brendon appeared in every Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, except for "Conversations with Dead People". He was present as well in the unaired pilot, already in his role as Xander. Brendon portrayed him as well in the Buffy ad campaign "Halloween Bash", in partnership with Barq's root beer. Additionally, he portrayed the vampire counterpart Xander from an alternative timeline in the episode "The Wish".
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 1
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 3
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 4
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7 (Credit only in "Conversations with Dead People")
Brendon co-wrote the following Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten issues, with Christos Gage:
- New Rules, Part Three
- New Rules, Part Four
- New Rules, Part Five
- I Wish, Part Two
- Love Dares You, Part Two
- Love Dares You, Part Three
- Freaky Giles Day