When Buffy The Vampire Slayer first aired in 1997, it took television by storm. It was witty and entertaining, and succeeded in bringing back science fiction to the early 21st century. It also cleared the way for other similar shows like The Vampire Diaries, which went on to become a massive hit in its own right.
Both shows featured a small town with a vampire infestation and followed a female protagonist as she battled against the forces of darkness. However, there were still some rather large differences between the two dramas, with each putting their own unique spin on the supernatural. Here are 5 things The Vampire Diaries did better (and 5 that Buffy excelled at).
10 The Vampire Diaries - More Complex Vampires
Firstly, this isn't to say that Buffy's take on vampires was dull. Some of the most interesting characters from that show were vampires, for example, Angel and Spike. However, these were a minority and most vampires served as a monster of the week for the Slayer to defeat with relative ease.
In the case of The Vampire Diaries, Damon and Stefan Salvatore shared the spotlight with the show's original lead, Elena Gilbert. The show focused on the two vampire brothers an awful lot because the characters were so compelling. As if they weren't enough, the series introduced the Original vampires in the third season, fuelling even more drama.
9 Buffy - LGBTQ+ Characters
The LGBTQ+ community is where The Vampire Diaries fails. Whereas its equally popular spinoff The Originals features a gay woman in its main cast, The Vampire Diaries fails to give any LGBTQ character much chance to shine. For a show where almost every person gets off with another, this is more than a little disappointing.
Buffy, on the other hand, portrayed gay relationships really well, which was especially gratifying considering when it first aired. In the fourth season, Willow began to develop feelings for Tara, a fellow witch. The two soon became involved, resulting in one of Buffy's best relationships for almost 3 seasons.
8 The Vampire Diaries - Better Spinoffs
After its third season, Buffy was soon joined by its first official spinoff focusing on Buffy's vampire ex, Angel. Angel was fairly similar to its sister show and it proved to be just as popular. It allowed Angel and Cordelia to develop further as characters but it did feel a bit like Buffy 2.0.
The Vampire Diaries also paved the way for spinoffs, managing to spawn The Originals and Legacies. The former focused on the Big Bads from Season 3 of its parent show, the Mikaelson family. This gave the show a unique perspective, in that the protagonists were not always fighting on the right side. It also provided further depth for Klaus and Elijah in particular.
7 Buffy - Evil Vampires
Considering it even has vampires in its name, The Vampire Diaries doesn't portray many outright evil vamps. Sure, Damon nailed being the main villain initially, but he soon became more of an antihero due to his infatuation with Elena. The series produced some great villains but none were properly bad.
In contrast, Buffy wasn't going to shy away from making vampires absolutely terrifying to watch. As well as the surprisingly okay vampire prosthetics, the show also introduced the audience to the most evil vampire of all: Angelus. Angelus was Angel's soulless alter ego, who had zero qualms about killing the people Buffy loved just to watch her suffer.
6 The Vampire Diaries - Doppelgängers
Admittedly, Buffy actually handled the concept of doppelgängers fairly successfully in its third season. The first time doppelgängers were introduced was in "The Wish" which involved an alternate reality. The second time was when Willow's alternate vampire ego arrived in her reality and wreaked havoc.
However, Buffy seemed to only use doppelgängers as a handy plot device, whereas The Vampire Diaries used them to sustain a series-long arc. Additionally, while seeing an evil Willow was fun, watching Katherine, Elena's doppelgänger, was quite simply a privilege and not easily forgettable.
5 Buffy - A Bigger Variety Of The Supernatural
In all fairness, The Vampire Diaries covered impressive ground when it came to the supernatural, featuring, vampires, werewolves, witches and hybrids aplenty. However, all the main storylines revolved primarily around those four species, with other monsters and creatures only getting an occasional look in.
Since Buffy's format was more of a monster-of-the-week type, it allowed for literally hundreds of supernatural entities to have their chance to shine. Half of the main cast was also supernatural including a Slayer, a vampire, a witch, a vengeance demon and a mystical key in human form.
4 The Vampire Diaries - Character Development
Buffy was one of the most interesting and popular shows on TV for almost seven years and it did produce some unforgettable characters. Willow's evolution from a shy and awkward student into a confident and badass witch was a brilliant case of character development. However, other characters fared less well, with Cordelia remaining shallow and annoying until her transition on to Angel.
On the other hand, Caroline Forbes was seemingly established as another Cordelia-esque 'it' girl in The Vampire Diaries, right up until she was killed and turned into a vampire in the Season 2 premiere. Her character development was done perfectly and she remains one of the most beloved characters from the show.
3 Buffy - Better Big Bads
One of the best things about Buffy was its ability to produce entertaining antagonists for each season. Every single villain had strong and unique motivations and each presented a new challenge for the Slayer. Sometimes, the Big Bad would even end up being a close ally, which just raised the stakes even higher.
The Vampire Diaries also had its share of fascinating villains, with Katherine and the Mikaelsons being the most well-received. However, there were also quite a lot of lame antagonists as well, like the Travellers or Rayna Cruz. These guys were either boring or just plain forgettable.
2 The Vampire Diaries - Better Shock Value
Buffy was no stranger to producing some amazingly shocking twists during its run. No one will ever forget the time when Angel lost his soul, or when Warren shot and killed Tara. However, the show generally preferred story development and humor over shocking its viewers, which was absolutely fine and worked well for the show.
The Vampire Diaries, though, was a more mature series and seemed to delight in presenting twist after twist. The best thing about this was that the shocks happened fairly frequently and yet most of the time, one would never see them coming. The moment where Katherine sliced off John's fingers was startling and has become utterly iconic.
1 Buffy - A More Relatable Protagonist
Elena Gilbert was extremely popular due to her likability and her compassion for others. She was the heart of The Vampire Diaries for 6 seasons and even guest-starred in the series finale. However, she was annoying at times and her constant attempts to martyr herself for her friends did get pretty tiresome.
While Buffy also sacrificed herself (twice, actually), she always appeared to be much more relatable. As well as battling monsters from the Hellmouth every week, she also worried about normal things like guys, homework and divorced parents. She was the protagonist that literally everyone could relate to, whereas Elena just felt a bit too out of reach.