There is plenty to celebrate on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but one thing in particular that often gets left out is the beautiful relationship between Willow and Tara. Now, I'm all for loving Buffy/Angel and Buffy/Spike, but let's be honest here—Willow and Tara were probably a healthier couple than them (and every other couple on the show for that matter).
Their relationship changed television forever and gave hope to queer women everywhere that their time to be represented on screen was coming.
It's still tragic how this relationship ended. (It followed the stereotypical, Bury Your Gays trope, where it's common for queer women to be killed off on TV shows. The numbers are actually disturbing.) That being said, it's still fair to argue that Willow and Tara represented far more good than bad for lesbian and bisexual women. Throughout season four, five, and six, Willow and Tara showed the very best and the very worst of being in love. But, these 11 moments, arranged in chronological order, show why people are still in love with them all these years later.
The uber shy Tara could barely make eye contact with anyone, her eyes seemingly glued to the ground or hidden beneath her hair. But as she listened to Willow at their college's Wicca group, she couldn't keep her eyes down. What's more, she even attempts to speak up against the group in Willow's defense, when Willow is shot down after suggesting that the group actually do spells. It's a short but sweet moment.
Season 4, Episode 10 — "Hush"
Shortly after they meet, the world is thrown into chaos when the Gentlemen steal the voices of everyone in town. Without a voice, no one can scream for help when the Gentlemen come to kill them. Tara is nearly captured by them on her way back to her room and desperately seeks help. Willow is the only person who comes to her aid, but she quickly finds herself out of her league in taking on such powerful demons. The two find a safe space to hide and combine their powers to block the door with a nearby soda machine. Not only was it cool, but it was also touching to see a quick bond of trust forming between two people who didn't know anything about one another.
Season 4, Episode 10 — "Hush"
It's hard to sum up the beauty and importance of this moment. It changed television history. This was a lesbian relationship—or a bisexual relationship, though Willow never confirms that she retains any interest in men after Tara—that wasn't overtly sexual or fetishized for the audience. Their relationship bloomed through looks and body language that queer people understood and the emotions in the moment this couple was confirmed will never be matched.
"You have to be with the person you l-love," Tara says shakily, accepting that Willow had chosen Oz even though she hadn't said a thing.
Willow smiles. "I am."
And hearts everywhere melted.
Season 4, Episode 19 — "New Moon Rising"
Season five introduced us to Tara's family, and boy were they awful. In just one episode, it was very clear to viewers that Tara had suffered and been treated horribly by a boldly misogynistic family. They try to break Tara's spirit, demanding she returns home with them to take care of the home. In this tense moment, Willow gently talks to Tara and gets her to admit her truth, that she doesn't want to go home, at all. It's debatable what then causes Buffy, Xander, and everyone else to stand up for Tara, against her family, but I'd argue that it's Willow's dedication and commitment to Tara, and the obvious truth that she loves her, that pushed her friends to step in.
Season 5, Episode 6 — "Family"
"The Body" is one of the most extraordinary, well-written, heartwrenching, and real things ever to be created in any medium. The episode is at times hard to watch because it captures grief so accurately that it's almost scary. Every character is going through it, and Willow and Tara are no exception. Tara, throughout the episode, stays calm and strong for everyone, later revealing that she also lost her mother. Willow, on the other hand, is crumbling, as Joyce was important to her, someone who, at times, treated her better and recognized her more than her own mother.
As Willow is desperately trying to find something to wear, she begins to spiral. Tara steps in, holding her, kissing her. Then they both agree that they can be strong, like Amazons. The tenderness and love for each other in this scene shines a light on an otherwise cold, dark, and unforgiving episode.
Season 5, Episode 16 — "The Body"
After season five, Big Bad Glory destroys Tara's mind, trapping her in a hellish, hopeless place inside her head. Willow is destroyed. She blames herself for not protecting Tara and even goes so far as trying to take Glory on all by herself—doing pretty well for a human fighting a Hell God. Although Willow can't find a way to heal Tara, she promises to care for her, and does so throughout the season.
It isn't until the finale that Willow figures out how to reverse what Glory did. She does so and runs across the battlefield to find her lover. When she finds Tara she has no idea whether or not the spell worked, but finally, when Tara speaks, they're able to embrace, connected once again.
"I got so lost..." Tara cries.
"I found you. I will always find you," Willow promises, kissing Tara and holding her close.
Season 5, Episode 22 — "The Gift"
Can we please talk about how Willow and Tara managed to stay in a healthy relationship while taking care of Dawn, Buffybot, and the Summers' residence, all while being in school? It wasn't even like they were grown adults either. They had just barely entered their 20s! The explanation? Clearly, they were in a very strong relationship.
Season 6, Episode 1 — "Bargaining: Part 1"
"I'm Under Your Spell" is one of the best songs in "Once More, With Feeling," which is saying a lot because most of the songs are amazing. It's a testament to the magic in their relationship. The song is a bit marred by the fact that there is some shady, magical business going on behind Tara's back, but, it's still okay to enjoy the song and the not so subtle suggestion that Willow went down on Tara at the end of the song.
Season 6, Episode 7 — "Once More, With Feeling"
Season six showed Willow struggling with addiction to magic. Her inability to stay away from them caused Tara to leave her. Although she left, she never stopped caring about Willow, which shows when the group becomes trapped, by magic, in Buffy's house. Anya turns to Willow and guilts her for not trying spells to get everyone out. Willow, afraid that she might lose control, and having been clean from magic for a while, isn't comfortable trying anything in the magical realm. When Anya gets more aggressive, Tara steps in, defending Willow. Tara tells her, later, how proud she was for refusing magic, giving the still-heartbroken Willow hope for their relationship again.
Season 6, Episode 14 — "Older And Far Away"
Most couples in the Buffyverse broke up and could never make it work again. Willow and Tara, though, were the exception. After a season of heartbreak and distrust, they manage to patch things up because they were truly in love. This scene was a bright spot in an unpleasant season, but, unfortunately, it would be one of the last times we would see them together. At least, in the end, they were able to fix things.
Tara's last words prove that she never stopped thinking of Willow first.
Season 6, Episode 19 — "Seeing Red"