Tara Maclay, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) was introduced in Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a shy college student that budding witch Willow Rosenberg met at a campus Wicca meeting. Tara was originally slated to appear in only a few episodes as a friend for Willow to help her learn magic and develop her skills, but because of the obvious chemistry between the two actresses, series creator Joss Whedon decided to expand the role and planned that the characters would become lovers.
Their relationship developed on screen, and by episode 19, Willow explicitly chose to be with Tara over her ex-boyfriend Oz, causing a portion of the existing fanbase to react with homophobic remarks and personal attacks against actress Amber Benson. While network executives encouraged the lesbian element in the relationship, they put strict guidelines on what could be shown and contrasting with some of the more overtly sexual relationships between the other heterosexual characters. Willow and Tara did not kiss until Season 5’s “The Body”, in an episode that diverted the focus away from their display of affection as it dealt mainly with the death of Buffy’s mother. Before this episode, much of their sexuality was represented by allusions to witchcraft, while in “The Body” Willow finally mouthed the words ‘I love you’ to Tara, though Tara didn’t say it back.
In 5×06, the show introduced Tara’s family and a brief backstory — her mother died when she was 17 and her remaining family consisted of a cold, authoritarian father, an overbearing brother and a judgmental, repressed and repressive cousin — but her primary role throughout the series was that of Willow’s partner. Following the death of Buffy’s mother, Tara and Willow moved together into the Summers house. By Season 6, Tara had become more outspoken about the ethics of Willow’s dependence on magic and, after Willow could not keep her promise not to use any magic for a week, she broke up with her. Despite their separation, Tara remained devoted to Willow’s recovery and supported her in her decision to abstain from using magic.
In one of the most-cited examples of the Bury Your Gays trope, immediately following Willow’s reconciliation with Tara and an implied sex scene, a stray bullet killed Tara right in front of Willow (Season 6, episode 18, “Seeing Red”).
Whedon explained that he saw the death as necessary to further Willow’s character; Tara had become popular among fans, and Whedon and series writer David Fury decided that her death would elicit a strong response. The response from viewers and critics alike was indeed overwhelming towards Whedon, accusing him of homophobia. Series writer and producer Marti Noxon, whose own mother fell in love with another woman when Noxon was 13 years old, said she was unable to read some of the mail the writing team received because it was so upsetting. To her, however, the pain expressed in viewers’ letters was a logical reaction to the lack of realistic lesbian role models on television.
- 47 episodes. Recurring in S4, 5, 6. Regular character in the episode in which she dies "Seeing Red"
Female love interests:
- Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan, bisexual, main cast, 144 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a woman: Yes
No male love interests
Relationship story arc with a man: No
Male love interest after being identified as a lesbian? No
Filter Relationship Arc:
Storyline during sweeps? No
 A relationship story arc is defined as explicit, developed on screen, and lasting more than 3 episodes. It is listed as questionable or subtext if romance is only implied, mentioned instead of shown on screen, part of a dream sequence, or otherwise not explicit for the viewer.
 Sweeps episodes air in February, May, July and November, the periods when advertising rates are set. A character is marked as "sweeps" when there is a very limited number of episodes that address their sexuality, all air during sweeps period, and the storyline is otherwise ignore/dropped.