The Vampire Diaries and Buffy The Vampire Slayer may have aired during different time periods, but they have many things in common. The former is a fun teen drama about a teenage girl and two vampire brothers, and the latter is a '90s classic about an adolescent girl who protects her town from vampires (while, okay, falling in love with two vampires along the way).
While these two shows are both about teens and, of course, vampires and other creatures, they have unique approaches, character development, and storylines. Let's compare these two. Here are five things that Buffy The Vampire Slayer does better than The Vampire Diaries, and vice versa.
10 Buffy: Human/Vampire Romance
When Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) falls in love with Angel, it's exciting and a little strange. After all, he's a vampire. That might put a damper on things. For a while, their relationship has a "forbidden love" tone to it and that's thrilling for any high schooler (and for us viewers). She can't take him to school events like the dance... but hey, that's not really Buffy's style, anyway.
Even though Elena's love life is very moving on TVD, it's truly nothing compared to Buffy and Angel's love story. The stakes are so much higher (no pun intended) since it's dangerous for them to be together. They're considered a more classic TV couple than Elena and Damon (or Elena and Stefan). And when they break up, it's so devastating.
9 TVD: The Love Triangle
One thing that The Vampire Diaries did a lot better? The love triangle between Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and Stefan and Damon Salvatore (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder). This is one of the major reasons why fans watched the show for its entire run (and why the show is still remembered so fondly even though it's off the air).
The tension, pain, and emotions that these three feel experience in every scene that they're in is a special feature of this show. Not many TV series can seamlessly blend teenage drama, the supernatural, and feelings in the way that The Vampire Diaries did. For a love triangle to work properly, audiences have to feel like the main object of affection could honestly be with either one. That was definitely true here. You wanted Elena to be with Stefan... but you couldn't help but wonder about Damon...
8 Buffy: A More Popular Spin-Off
While TVD tried its best to have a proper spin-off (The Originals was on the air for five seasons from 2013 until 2018), no one can argue with the fact that the Buffy spin-off, Angel, was much more popular. It became a show in its own right instead of just something that fans would watch because they wanted to believe that it was good or because they were feeling nostalgic.
Fans of Buffy love the character of Angel, and the David Boreanaz-starring spin-off lasted for five seasons from 1999 until 2004. Angel left Sunnydale behind to go to L.A. and help others. The Originals is about Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) and his family but just didn't succeed quite as well.
7 TVD: Consistency
When it comes to what The Vampire Diaries did better than Buffy The Vampire Slayer, consistency definitely has to be on this list. Even die-hard fans of Buffy have to admit that at times, the show didn't even seem recognizable from its former self. From the season seven musical episode "Once More, with Feeling" to the introduction of the character Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg) in season five, there were some misteps.
TVD stayed fairly consistent in story tone throughout its six seasons. Elena was always dealing with her family conflict and thinking about being human (and, later, coming to terms with being a vampire). The brothers were always arguing. The other characters were dealing with the supernatural. Fans knew what they were getting.
6 Buffy: A Well-Developed Evil Vampire
Sure, Klaus might be terrifying, but does he seem as well-crafted as Spike (James Marsters)? Many fans of both shows would probably say no. From the moment that Spike is introduced on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, he's scary but also interesting.
The fact that Spike and Buffy fall in love gives his character even more depth since you have to wonder how someone so evil could love someone who is literally supposed to take him down (and every other creature that he knows). Their relationship isn't completely perfect (there is one major storyline where he tries to force himself on her, which definitely makes us cringe) but he's, for the most part, a compelling character.
5 VD: A Cool Mythology
The mythology on The Vampire Diaries is something to be admired since it's intense and interesting. It's the kind of show that gets more compelling the more that you watch, and more secrets and family backgrounds are revealed as time goes on.
"The Original Vampires" or "The Originals" are extremely strong and they're considered the top vampires. The family lives all over and includes Klaus and his four siblings. This is cool to learn about, and so is Elena's history. It turns out that Elena has a doppelganger named Katherine Pierce. The explanation of doppelgangers is actually very complex and long, but in a nutshell, a doppelganger's blood is a big thing in this universe and can be a part of spells.
4 Buffy: A Strong, Inspiring Protagonist
No offense to Elena. She's a perfectly nice person... but she is kind of a boring character. In the first few episodes of The Vampire Diaries, she spends a lot of time moping and writing in her diary, and she's not that fascinating to watch. Things become better once she meets the Salvatore brothers and learns about the supernatural nature of Mystic Falls, but it can feel like things are happening to her, not that she's in the driver's seat.
Buffy, on the other hand, is strong and inspiring, and she's a much better main character. Some of the things that she says might make her sound like a valley girl... if a valley girl kicked butt against vampires, that is. She's intelligent and hilarious and so watchable. She's never without a clever comeback, like when she says to the mean girl at school, "Cordelia. Your mouth is open, sound is coming from it. This is never good."
3 TVD: A Regular, Relatable Teen Girl
Sure, it's true that not every high schooler can look at Elena's life and think, "Yup, that looks just like my everyday. I go to school and then hang out with vampires." But for the most part, Elena is a regular, relatable teen girl.
This is something that The Vampire Diaries does better than Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Granted, this does take a bit of supsension of disbelief. But once we get past the whole "vampires aren't actually real" thing, we can say that it feels more plausible for Elena to live in a supernatural town than for Buffy to literally be the slayer fighting off the vampires and demons.
2 Buffy: Teen Problems
Creator and showrunner Joss Whedon has been quoted as saying, "I started to think about it and I came up with the notion of playing all sorts of horror movies in high school and making them metaphors for how frightening and horrible high school is."
Buffy features teen problems much better than TVD and says something important about the young adult experience. So many of the show's early episodes, from "Teacher's Pet" (Xander likes a teacher who is a praying mantis) to "I, Robot... You, Jane" (Willow's Internet date is actually evil), are intelligent and clever. They look at a typical teenage issue and turn it into something scary and extraordinary.
1 TVD: Wild Twists
Buffy is always fun to watch and many of the episodes hold up today (although, sure, they're a little dated in terms of clothing). The Vampire Diaries might not be considered a TV classic in quite the same way, but one thing that it does better would be having lots of wild twists. This is probably because so many of the characters change from humans into vampires or they're already supernatural (like Bonnie being a witch).
These two teen dramas which feature vampires may have these differences, but they're both still incredibly popular and always worth binge-watching all over again.