Harry Potter and the Chosen Ones: Buffy Summers
For fans of fantasy fiction, Harry Potter’s journey might feel familiar. It’s the journey of the “Chosen One,” a well-known trope found in books, movies, and television. The Chosen One is generally prophesied and marked from birth so that we’ll know them when they come. As we learn in Order of the Phoenix, Harry’s destiny was laid out in a prophecy told by Sybill Trelawney and witnessed by Albus Dumbledore.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.” (Order of the Phoenix 841)
Having heard part of the prophecy, Voldemort assumes it’s about Harry and sets out to kill him before he grows up to be his nemesis. Voldemort essentially chooses Harry to be the boy who will one day kill him, unwillingly creating a connection between them that will eventually lead to his demise. This series will explore Harry’s journey and its similarities to other Chosen Ones in fiction.
One of the most loved heroines in sci-fi and fantasy is Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Harry and Buffy have a lot in common. Much like Harry, Buffy’s role is set out in a prophecy. Where their stories differ is that Harry’s destiny is unique, whereas Buffy is just one of many Slayers throughout history.
Into every generation, there is a chosen one. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Where Harry has Dumbledore to guide him in the fulfillment of his destiny, Buffy has Rupert Giles, who was assigned as her Watcher. It’s Giles’ responsibility to train and prepare Buffy, but he ends up serving as a father figure in her life, as does Dumbledore in Harry’s life. Some might see this as a detriment to the mission because their affection for the Chosen One can cloud the mentor’s judgment.
The Chosen One can often be stubborn and insist that they need to accomplish their mission alone, but they are surrounded by friends who disagree. Harry has the Golden Trio (and eventually the remainder of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army) to guide him along the way and complement his strengths with their own. In Buffy’s corner is the Scooby Gang, comprised of an assortment of witches, demons, and good friends. In both cases, the support system becomes a family above all else, and their unity is part of what ensures their success.
The most important part of the Chosen One’s journey is the inevitable sacrifice. For the Chosen One to defeat the evil that is threatening their world, they have to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause. In Harry’s case, the fact that he harbors a part of Voldemort’s soul means that he must die for Voldemort to be defeated. It’s Harry’s determination to do whatever it takes, in the name of his family and all the others who have suffered, that makes him the hero that we know and love.
Similarly, at the end of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Slayer discovers a prophecy that says that she must die in order to defeat the Master. Buffy decides to fulfill her destiny if it will mean ridding the world of this evil.
Luckily for us faithful fans, Harry and Buffy make it back from the dead (although Buffy dies a few more times) and are rewarded for their selflessness with the chance to live in the world that they helped save. Relieved of their burden, the Chosen One can now choose their own destiny.