|This article is about the witch. For the vampire, see Tara (vampire).|
Tara Maclay was born on October 16, 1980, roughly the same age as the rest of the Scoobies. Her family life was traumatic and she did not have a lot of friends before meeting Willow and The Scooby Gang. She lost her mother when she was 17, at which point she went through a brief rebellious period of lying to her father and staying out all night. At a young age, her abusive father told her that she was partially of demon descent on her mother's side, who, like Tara, had magic powers. She later found out this was merely a lie designed to keep control over her. She "came out" as a lesbian before her freshman year in college.
CollegeWhile a member of UC Sunnydale's Wicca group, she met Willow, herself a practicing witch. Since the wicca group did not consist of real witches except for Willow and herself, Tara took notice of Willow when she spoke out about actually preforming spells rather than just making meaningless pagan blessings and making bake sales. When a group of demons called the Gentlemen stole the voices of everyone in Sunnydale to obtain hearts, Tara took it upon herself to meet Willow so that they could try restoring everyone's speech as she had a book with spells about sound and vocalizations. However, when making her way over to Willow's dorm at Stevenson Hall, Tara was chased by the Gentlemen and their footmen. Willow then joined her when she stepped out of her dorm in response to Tara knocking on doors for help. Together, the two witches used their combined forces of telekinesis to carry a vending machine and use it to block a door.
After this Willow and Tara began regularly seeing each other, meeting up at Tara's dorm room to practice spells together. Through this, Willow easily got over her depression after her boyfriend and werewolf Oz left her for the sake of her own safety. Willow nonetheless kept her meetings with Tara secret as she enjoyed the idea of having something that was hers, to which Tara responded that she is happy to be Willow's. On the other hand, Tara once sabotaged a spell to contact the goddess Thespia used to detect demonic activity. It is suggested however, that Tara did this to hide her supposed demon heritage.In many ways, the painfully shy and quiet Tara was reminiscent of the way Willow was in years past. As Willow's romantic relationship with Oz had caused her to begin to bloom, it was through Tara that Willow became a more powerful young witch and through Willow that Tara's confidence grew. Willow and Tara started to grow affectionate to each other, and Willow then felt safe to introduce Tara to her friend Buffy Summers, the Slayer. It was the case however, as Tara discovered, that it was actually Faith Lehane, another Slayer, in Buffy's body. Tara was able to determine this as she sensed Faith's aura. Faith made a comment to Willow which suggested she knew Willow was attracted to Tara. With Faith exposed, Tara and Willow created a Draconian Katra to reverse what Faith had done, putting the real Buffy into her body. Tara then became acquainted with the rest of Willow's friends including Xander Harris, Rupert Giles and Anya Jenkins but her growing feelings for Willow and vice versa remained unnoticed. She began attending meetings with the supernatural fighting group, dubbed "The Scooby Gang" and the two became involved on to the point that they thought about getting a pet kitten. Everything was going fine until Oz returned, believing he had found a way to stop his werewolf transformations. Tara instantly backed off as Willow and Oz started to renew their relationship, though Willow found it hard as she started to realise that she was quickly falling in love with Tara. This left Willow with the choice between her long-term boyfriend and her new friend. Tara tried to avoid Oz but eventually crossed paths with him on campus where he noticed that she was wearing Willow's clothes, unearthing Willow and Tara's involvement. Because his lycanthropy could only be controlled by his emotions, this upsetting discovery caused Oz to turn right at that moment and attack Tara, though she was then saved by the Initiative who seized Oz without letting her explain that he was actually a person. After Oz was released from the Initiative compound and left Sunnydale, Willow revealed that she wanted to be with who she loved, which was Tara.
Willow and Tara then became open girlfriends and got a pet kitten called Miss Kitty Fantastico. When the First Slayer attacked Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles in their dreams, Tara briefly appeared in Willow's dream as well as acting as the voice for the First Slayer.
Member of the Scoobies
Months later, Tara had become a constant member of the Scooby Gang and Buffy's circle of friends. Her main function was her skills in magic, as she would perform spells alongside Willow, such as de-inviting vampires like Dracula, Harmony Kendall and Spike. She occasionally looked after Buffy's kid sister Dawn Summers who admired Tara along with Willow, but did not notice their romantic involvement until months later. Tara also moved into Willow's dorm room in college after Buffy left.
Furthermore on her twentieth birthday, her father, brother and cousin came to return her to their home, claiming that like her mother, she would now became a demon. Afraid of what her new friends would think, she cast a spell causing them to perceive all demons invisible. Ending badly, she broke the spell after an attack from a group of Lei-Ach Demons at the Magic Box. Tara's family arrived just after and demanded that she come home. But, by disclosing errors in their logic, and confirming she wasn't actually a demon when Spike hit her, as his chip was triggered, which would only happen with a human, the Scooby Gang managed to convince the family to leave. This gave Tara a new found confidence, as she had stood up to them, and she got to celebrate her birthday with those she truly loved as a result. She celebrated at the Bronze nightclub with the gang, ending with Willow and Tara slow dancing while magically levitating.
When Buffy's mother died, Tara sympathised with Buffy as she had lost her own mother, though she did exclaim that "she's nuts" when hearing from Xander and Anya that she was fornicating with Spike, which they suspected was due to the depression of losing her mother (though really it was a robotic duplicate Spike used to substitute his desire for Buffy).Willow and Tara's relationship started to develop problems when they fought about each other's development as witches, Willow acknowledging that Tara had far more experience while Tara noticed Willow's growing power. After the fight, Tara attended a cultural fair alone. She had planned on going to this with Willow, but didn't due to their dispute. Whilst there, she unfortunately encountered the evil hell-god Glorificus, who came to her thinking she was the mystical key. This was actually Dawn. Upon learning this, Glory threatened to kill a large amount of people at the fair if Tara didn't tell her who the key was while crushing her hand. Glory then threatened to remove her sanity, thus Tara would become one of Glory's ever growing number of victims. These were people who became insane because she fed on their mental energies to sustain herself. Tara declined, so Glory sucked her mind out, leaving her in a babbling, childlike state. This angered Willow so much that she nearly got killed taking on Glory by herself.
Tara, unable to look after herself, was left in Willow's care. Even though she could be controlled most of the time, Tara was prone to random violent spasms and required to be tied down during her sleep. She also, as with every other of Glory's "brain sucked" victims, noticed Dawn was the key. This made her blurt out that fact in front of Glory who soon took Dawn from Buffy to ready her for the ritual to open the walls of the dimensions. The Scooby Gang used Tara to lead them to the site of Glory's "big day", where her insane victims had been drawn to, in order to build Glory a tower. Glory instantly noticed Tara just before Willow was able to transfer some of Tara's brain energy back into Tara, which restored her sanity, as well as weakening Glory.
The following year, Tara and Willow became surrogate parent figures to Dawn Summers after Buffy Summers' death, living in the Summer's house and sharing Joyce's room. In the season 8 comics Willow reveals that she and Tara considered simply taking Dawn and moving out of Sunnydale to start their own family together. When Willow revealed that she planned to resurrect Buffy, Tara was at first hesitant, as it was breaking the laws of nature, though eventually she went through with it. Tara was supportive and understanding of Willow's efforts to deal with the pressure of and struggle with her leadership over the Scooby Gang, reminding her that their bedroom was "the room where [she] don't have to be brave." Tara became more confident with great magical skills and knowledge.Despite Tara's trust in Willow, their relationship began to decay as Tara complained about Willow's overuse of magic, having a fight at the Bronze when Willow suggested using inter-dimensional magic simply to find Dawn in a crowd of people. Willow, hoping to repair things, used Lethe's Bramble to make Tara forget the incident. Tara eventually found out what Willow did and was so appalled she compared it to how Glory sucked her brain. Willow desperately promised to take a week off magic so Tara won't end things; however, she secretly attempted to make Tara forget again which went horribly wrong as it caused the whole gang to briefly lose their memories. After that, Tara broke up with Willow and left the Summer's house. This motivated Willow to cut down on her magic use.
Tara still though remained loyal to Dawn and was also the first person to learn of Buffy's affair with Spike. Rather than judging her, Tara helped her to understand that she was still human even though Spike could harm her without triggering the chip, becoming a close confidant and supportive friend for Buffy.When a vengeance demon used Dawn to make the gang along with several attendees at Buffy's birthday be mystical trapped in the Summer's house, Anya pressured Willow to use magic to set them free who didn't want to on account of her desire to stay away from magic. Tara stood up to her which was the first in several steps where they reunited in their relationships, taking slow steps such as attending Anya and Xander's wedding together as bridesmaids and reminiscing about times when they were separated. Though Willow was unsure about approaching a serious relationship too quickly, Tara went out and demanded "Can you just be kissing me now!" before the two witches made love.
- “The only thing Willow was ever good for...the only thing going for me were those moments - just moments - when Tara would look at me and I was wonderful - and that will never happen again.”
Tara was killed on May 7, 2002, by a stray bullet to the heart shot by Warren Mears intended for Buffy In that moment, her blood splattered on Willow's top. Tara's last words were "Your shirt?" before she collapsed to the floor, dead.
This consumed Willow with grief and rage. She immediately called upon Osiris to bring Tara back to life. However, he refused because her death was at the hands of an unempowered human, thus barring demonic or supernatural intervention or concern. Willow then set out to murder the Trio, a group of troublesome nerds led by Warren. She managed to kill Warren before aiming at Andrew Wells and Jonathan Levinson (despite both of them having nothing to do with Tara's murder).
The Scooby Gang tried to protect them, while Giles, having heard of Tara's death from a coven in Devon, tried to contain Willow with the powers given to him by the coven. He was unsuccessful and Willow drained him of the power which propelled her into a destructive and nihilistic rampage that attempted to destroy the world. Fortunately, Xander Harris was able to persuade Willow to not destroy the earth, and Willow was sent to England with Giles to learn how to control her powers more efficiently. Additionally, the trauma of Tara's death and Willow's subsequent rampage finally forced Buffy, who had developed several self-destructive habits and severe depression after her resurrection, to finally snap out of it and realize that life was worth living at the same time.
Willow was offered to have Tara be her guide on her journey towards improving her understanding of her powers. However, Willow surmised this would either be robbing Tara of her afterlife or an illusion, and instead chose Saga Vasuki. Tara appeared within Buffy's dream-space  and was later discussed by Willow when explaining to Buffy and Kennedy that she was keeping Kennedy and herself away from Buffy because she felt guilty for her decision to resurrect Buffy, returning to the life of increased danger associated with slaying which ultimately cost Tara her life, rather than taking the opportunity of Buffy's death to be with Tara in a safer environment and she did not want to repeat the same mistake with Kennedy. In a dream, Buffy was marrying skinless Warren and Tara was by her side saying "I still blame you for my death." A drowsy Buffy replied, "Everybody die always".
Personality and Traits
Tara was shy and quiet, rarely speaking up and stuttering when she did speak. She wore baggy, ill-fitting clothing to hide her body. After her father's lies were revealed, Tara became more comfortable with the group and began voicing her opinion more often. Her comment that April practically had "machine molded plastic stamped on her ass," amazed Buffy and Giles and she teased Willow that making up after a fight was "the best part." When she became more comfortable with speaking out, she also began wearing more well-fitting clothes that displayed confidence.
One of Tara's more prominent personality traits was her determination to put her friends and loved ones before herself. This was best illustrated in her choice to end her blooming relationship with Willow, even though it was obvious that she had strong feelings for Willow, so that Willow could go back to her ex-boyfriend Oz. . Tara's happiness with Willow's decision, was evidence that even then, Tara's feelings for Willow were strong enough for her to allow them to be apart, despite her attraction to Willow. Also, she endured Glory shattering her hand and brain sucking her, in order to protect Dawn's identity as The Key from her. She maintained a good relationship with the Scoobies after her break-up with Willow, even though her meetings with Willow were awkward and uncomfortable for both of them; attending Buffy's birthday party, being a bridesmaid in Xander and Anya's aborted wedding and taking Dawn out for milkshakes.
Powers and Abilities
Tara was a powerful but very prudent witch who performed a wide range of spells. Tara demonstrated Telekinesis, which, when she was in physical contact with Willow, was stronger than it would otherwise be, i.e., she and Willow pooled their power by concentrating on moving the same object. She displayed the unusual ability to magically know something was wrong with someone and to sense the use of mental powers, which she did by "reading" a person's aura, such as when Buffy was possessed by Faith Lehane. This ability, known as "The Sight", was one of very few that Willow did not share. Tara had a good knowledge of Latin and grew up riding horses. She rarely used the Internet because the preponderance of bad spelling depressed her. Tara was well-versed with several rites and rituals that even other witches or watchers were not familiar with--the Taglarin mythic rites being a few.
Notable Spells and Incidents
Tara was the only one to notice that Faith's spirit was trapped in Buffy's body and was central in sending Willow to the "nether-world" in order to discover how they could reverse the soul-switching. Tara cast a defensive spell which fended off a demon by conjuring a magical "fog of protection". Tara aided Giles and Willow in an attempt to reach and reason with the residual spiritual manifestations of numerous abused children who were plaguing a fraternity house.
Tara cast a spell to stop the Scooby Gang from being able to see demons so she could hide her supposed demon side. This also put the Scoobies in grave danger when Glory sent a horde of Lei-Ach Demons after Buffy, but Tara reversed it in time.
Tara used effective combat spells and was the only one that saw Buffy for what she was after she returned from the dead. For example, Tara cast a spell creating an "energy ball" that struck a demon biker attempting to kidnap Anya, thus freeing her friend Tara magically conjured a jet of flame in an attempt to intimidate the bikers' leader and she also conjured a light to help guide Willow and Xander who were lost in the forest. She cast a spell to free the trapped party goers in Buffy's house, but the spell instead freed a demon from a sword. Tara cast a spell that untied Willow and Dawn and she also magically sent a heavy shelf flying towards a demon to save her friends.
Tara made her first and only demon kill when she axed a demon in the back as he tried to strangle Willow.
- “I'm under your spell”
- Willow Rosenberg — While in a wicca group full of wannabes, Tara had quickly noticed that Willow stood out and was the only one with true witch powers. After escaping successfully from the Gentlemen, Tara praised Willow and commented on how she could feel her power as a witch. Willow denied this, but was very flattered by the compliment. The two witches soon became friends. It was around this time that Willow was led into depression after Oz left her, and Tara's entrance into her life, coupled with their shared interest in magic, filled the void Oz left. Starting off as a platonic relationship, it soon became clear that it had strong lesbian undertones. Willow had purposely resisted Tara not meeting her other friends, admitting to her that she still wanted to keep something that was "hers"; Tara replied that she was "hers". Faith was the first to identify their romantic relationship in an extremely blunt and rude manner, thoroughly alienating Tara.When Willow's ex-boyfriend Oz returned and her feelings for him resurfaced, Tara was hurt and slightly distanced herself from Willow. However, Tara was very understanding and selfless, admitting that she wanted Willow happy, whoever she chose. While Tara was under the impression that Willow still loved Oz more, she was proved wrong when she admitted she loved Tara and the two entered an offical relationship.Tara eventually expressed to Willow how she felt like somewhat of an outsider from the Scooby Gang, given their extremely tight bond with each other that was hard to fit in to, causing her to be able to relate to Dawn's own feelings of alienation. Willow was discouraged and protested against this, affectionately telling her that she was one of them now.Given her strained relationship with her family, Tara kept her past hidden from Willow, feeling it would only drive her away. After her familywas stopped from taking her home and she was finally fully accepted in the Scooby Gang, Tara would say to Willow that she always made her feel special. The two shared a loving dance on her birthday, levitating off the ground through their magical connection.  When Willow broke down over Joyce's death and criticized her style of clothing, Tara immediately comforted her and the shared their first on-screen kiss. It was Tara that nurtured the growth of confidence in Willow and vice versa. Tara allowed Willow to became a better witch, yet also acknowledging when she went over the line, worried for her safety. Eventually, she began to show a partly hidden fear of Willow's extreme power and reliance on magic, worrying that one day she would abuse her abilities for wrong purposes. Willow reacted with hurt, but Tara insisted she did trust her, she was just worried. She also admitted a fear of Willow leaving her for a man and that their relationship had been an "experimental" phase. After the argument, the two ran off on their own only for Tara to be brain-sucked by Glory. Willow was distraught and took it upon herself to take care of Tara, calling her her "everything." They were each other's "true love". Even when the Scooby Gang fell victim to an amnesia spell, there was still a heavy attraction between Willow and Tara, reinforcing the message of their true love.
Behind the Scenes
- She was portrayed by Amber Benson.
- Tara was a recurring character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons four, five and six. Amber Benson was counted as one of the regular cast for a single episode in season six ("Seeing Red"), in which her character died. She appeared in 47 episodes altogether; 12 in season four, 18 in season five and 17 in season six.
- Tara stated that her mother was a witch as powerful as Willow. Her maternal grandmother may also have been a witch, as Tara stated that she possessed a rare Doll's Eye Crystal, which has powerful magical properties.
- While "Seeing Red" is commonly considered Amber Benson's last appearance as Tara, she actually appears (and is credited) in the following episode as Tara's dead body.
- Amber Benson had the shortest tenure as a main character of any character from either Buffy or Angel: one episode.
- The first time that Tara appears in the opening credits is also the episode that she dies in.
- Tara has the lowest kill count of all the Scoobies: one. Also, throughout her entire time on the series on-screen, she never dusts a vampire.
- Joss Whedon originally wanted an actress with a smaller, less voluptuous frame, but Marti Noxon saw the vulnerability in Amber Benson's portrayal of Tara and called her back after her audition.
- Benson described her character in an interview, "She's quiet. It's mostly because she is shy, I think. I can identify with it in a sense, because I can be very shy too. It's almost like acting is an outlet for me that helps me to not be shy. I feel like Tara's the same way; her witchcraft empowers her and it forces her out of her shell."
- Hannigan was asked how Whedon planned the Willow-Tara relationship, "I don't know if he had any idea that was going to develop...the relationship the way he did. He was very hands-on in the Willow and Tara scenes.. he only does that when he really cares. But then we started reading the stuff and it's like 'OK, this is clearly going beyond the subtext here.' And he tried to stick to the 'No, no, it's just subtext' defense. Finally it was like 'Oh come on, hit-yourself-over-the-head-with-the-it' text."
- Benson was normally credited as a guest on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, despite appearing in more episodes than other regulars Oz and Riley. This is typical of how contracts are written for the actors - Seth Green and Marc Blucas's contracts specified that since they were regular characters they had to be available whenever they were needed for an episode and were normally expected to appear in all 22 episodes in a season. (There were exceptions to give a character time off to film a movie or if the storyline didn't require that actor). In contrast Amber Benson's contract was on a per-episode basis, like Kristine Sutherland and Eliza Dushku (and James Marsters in Season 2), hence they were not in the main credits.
- The only time Amber Benson was credited as a cast member in the opening credits was for the episode "Seeing Red," the episode in which Tara was killed. As Joss Whedon said in his commentary for "Welcome to the Hellmouth," this was something he had wanted to do from the start: kill a character listed as a regular in one of their first appearances as such. Whedon had considered listing Eric Balfour (who played Jesse McNally) in the two-part pilot as a regular, only to surprise the audience by killing him off, but financial restrictions didn't allow for this.
- After Tara's death, it was fiercely debated whether it constituted an example of a cliché in television that lesbian relationships usually turn out badly, often with one partner dying or turning out to be evil. Joss Whedon later explained that Tara's death had nothing to do with her being a lesbian, but it was just another plot twist designed to further Willow's personality; allegedly, if Willow had still been involved with Oz in Season Six, he would've been killed just as Tara was, so Tara was doomed not for being a lesbian but for being Willow's lover. In particular, it had become a well-known characteristic of the show that any couples tended to have their relationships brutally interrupted when they're at their closest.
- Tara was originally set to return to the show in the Season Seven episode "Conversations with Dead People", in which she would appear as one of the many forms assumed by The First Evil, and attempt to coerce Willow into committing suicide. However, Benson was not available and the episode was already on a really tight schedule. Instead, the First appeared to Willow as Cassie Newton, claiming to speak for Tara and that Willow couldn't see Tara (unless she killed herself) as a consequence of her actions as Dark Willow.
- While speaking at the Wizard World Chicago Convention in August 2004, Joss Whedon claimed that he had planned to bring Tara back from the dead at the end of Season Seven. According to Whedon, the episode would have centered around Buffy being granted one "life-altering" wish. Buffy would have spent the whole episode trying to decide what she wanted to do with the wish (including, possibly, restoring Angel's humanity). The episode would have ended with Buffy telling Willow that she'd just gotten a great new pair of shoes, and when Willow asked her if she used up her wish on new shoes, Buffy would have said, "No, silly!" and stepped aside to reveal Tara. It was intended to be set exactly a year after her death. However, this plan was abandoned when Amber Benson was unavailable for filming. At the 2007 Comic-Con, he referred to this idea as well. In addition the Season Eight issue 6 letters page hinted that Tara may be involved in an upcoming comic.
- In an essay published in Salon, Stephanie Zacharek argued that "gentle and sensible" Tara - more than any other character on Buffy - quietly and sympathetically stood for the right of all people to choose their own path and make their own mistakes. Zacherek writes, "Her soft, pearlescent voice and shy, doe-like eyes didn't contrast with her resolve; they were a huge part of it."
- Amber Benson later starred with Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), Julie Benz (Darla), Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall), James Marsters (Spike), Harry Groener (Richard Wilkins), Jack Plotnick (Allan Finch), Amy Acker (Winifred Burkle/Illyria), John Rubinstein (Linwood Murrow), Felicia Day (Violet), Chad Lindberg (David Kirby), Jack Conley (Gib Cain/Sahjhan), Jeff Kober (Zachary Kralik/Rack), Aldis Hodge (Masked Teen), Rob Benedict (Jape), Todd Stashwick (M'Fashnik Demon), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Sam Ryan), Megalyn Echikunwoke (Vaughne) and Ridge Canipe (Tommy) on Supernatural.
|The Tara Maclay article has a Photo Gallery.|
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 4|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 5|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 6|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 7|
Buffy Season 8
- The Long Way Home (Only in visions)
- Always Darkest (Only in visions)
- Retreat (Only in flashbacks)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow (Only in flashbacks)
- The Dark Druid
- Willow & Tara (non-canon)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds (Only in Multi-player) (non-canon)
- Tara Maclay at the Internet Movie Database