When The Vampire Diaries premiered back in 2009, it came right at the height of the vampire craze that kind of swept up the world. At first glance, it looked like just another teen drama in the same vein as Twilight. A closer look revealed that, while high in teen drama, this was also a series that paid respect to vampire lore, featured strong characters, and plenty of twists.
The show became so popular that it spawned a spin-off called The Originals, focusing on the oldest vampires in history. When you have two similar shows set in the same universe, comparisons are bound to come. Arguments could be made for days about which show is better because it's hard to pinpoint. Instead, we'll look at the things each show did better than its counterpart.
10 The Vampire Diaries: Romance
The driving force behind most of The Vampire Diaries was the love triangle between Elena Gilbert and brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore. The show completed the difficult task of making it work in a way where none of the characters came off as unlikable. This series also gave us memorable romances for Bonnie, Jeremy, Caroline, Enzo, and many others despite there being crossovers in some of these couples.
While The Originals wasn't bad in the romantic department, it never captivated the way its predecessor did. The Klaus/Marcel/Cami triangle never got going and most never bought into the Marcel/Rebekah romance. Elijah and Hayley were a couple to root for, but that's about it. Honestly, Klaus' best romance was with Caroline on The Vampire Diaries.
9 The Originals: Family Bond
The Vampire Diaries didn't do poorly in the family department. The Salvatore bond was crucial and Elena was heavily motivated by her family. But it couldn't touch what The Originals did with the concept. The theme of family was woven into almost everything that occurred on the show.
The Mikaelsons were a complicated bunch who spent centuries betraying each other. And yet, they also would do anything for one another. Introducing Freya added a great dynamic, as did bringing back Kol, and including Hayley and Hope into the clan. Family meant everything to The Originals, which is why it worked better.
8 The Vampire Diaries: Different Supernatural Beings
Though it only featured vampire in its title, The Vampire Diaries did a masterful job at introducing all sorts of supernatural beings into their lore. Season one focused on vampires, witches and doppelgangers but by the time season two got going, a whole bunch of other creatures were in Mystic Falls.
They expanded to include werewolves, hybrids, travelers, passengers, immortals, sirens, and more. It allowed for a variety of villains that made each season a bit different. The Originals kept their focus to a handful of these groups and it did lead to a few repetitive antagonists.
7 The Originals: Feeling Mature
As noted, The Vampire Diaries ultimately reminded people of Twilight at first glance because of the high school characters and the love triangle. And while it did deal with some serious stuff, it remained somewhat grounded in that kind of drama. Meanwhile, The Originals always felt like a more mature show.
These were the oldest vampires around, so it made sense that their series had an older feel. It didn't have to worry about awkward storylines of these characters fitting into school or going to class. Everything was a conversation or situation you'd expect regular adults to have.
6 The Vampire Diaries: Strong Female Leads
Obviously, this is something The Vampire Diaries had a leg up on because their protagonist was a female. Elena Gilbert was the center of everything for most of the series. And while characters like Stefan and Damon got a ton of shine, Elena was the star. Even before becoming a vampire, she was a strong girl that you could rally behind.
Unfortunately, the women on The Originals had less to work with. Hayley was handled well throughout the series, but Cami was gone too quickly and Rebekah was barely around. The latter left early and only made sporadic appearances afterward. The ladies of The Originals played an important role, but nowhere near what Elena, Caroline, and Bonnie meant to the other show.
5 The Originals: A Great Human Character
Both of these shows were mostly filled with characters who were supernatural. They were often the most exciting people around. But the human characters, who were few and far between, were far less fun to watch. The Originals fixed that problem with Cami.
Cami spent most of her time on the show as a human. She was something of a conscience for Klaus and their relationship was one of the stronger ones on the series. The Vampire Diaries offered more humans, but most of them didn't have the kind of impact that Cami did.
4 The Vampire Diaries: Higher Stakes
If there was one problem with The Originals, it was probably the fact that the stars were too powerful. Knowing that Klaus was basically immortal and that Elijah and Rebekah could only be killed by the white oak stake meant that you rarely bought into the idea of them dying.
Meanwhile, the folks in Mystic Falls were serious candidates to die. When The Vampire Diaries introduced Klaus and the rest of his family, you felt like they were in real trouble and that not everyone would live. The stakes were higher, even if most of the people who died eventually came back.
3 The Originals: Layered Characters In Shades Of Grey
The Originals had a tough task with Klaus as the protagonist. He is far from a good guy, so it can be difficult to root for him. But, the show balanced it incredibly well. Klaus would do an unforgivable act and follow it up with a moment where we couldn't help but love him. The same goes for Marcel, who was both friend and foe to the Mikaelsons and we understood why he'd be on either side.
On The Vampire Diaries, many characters toed that same line. Elena turning off her humanity or Stefan becoming a ripper again or Damon snapping Jeremy's neck. But they were always seemingly playing for the good team with some bad moments.
2 The Vampire Diaries: Pacing And Shock Value
This is not to say that The Originals suffered from issues with these things. It's just that The Vampire Diaries kind of mastered it. As soon as Elena found out that vampires were real, the show didn't take its foot off the gas. So much would happen from episode to episode. A season's worth of information would get dumped in about five episodes.
With those incredibly paced episodes, we'd also get a lot of shocking moments. Maybe it's just because The Vampire Diaries came first, but they would find ways to surprise viewers almost every commercial break. It was something that excelled at. For whatever faults the show had, it was never dull.
1 The Originals: New Orleans
The setting of The Originals might be the best thing about it. Mystic Falls was a fine location for The Vampire Diaries and it fit the tone of the show. But you can't beat New Orleans. There's a reason it gets used in all sorts of movies and television shows.
The historic New Orleans has plenty of notable landmarks and an almost unmatched vibrancy. The city is precisely what Klaus wants to take back when the show begins. It almost becomes its own character. New Orleans means that much to the show and it would've never felt as special had it been set somewhere else.