Vampire Diaries: 8 Casting Decisions That Saved It (And 8 That Hurt It)

Based on L. J. Smiths popular book series of the same name, The Vampire Diaries is one of the most popular supernatural dramas on the CW. Despite the many obvious deviations from Smith’s novels, the series enjoyed an 8-year run from 2009 to 2017, with a total of 171 episodes.

However, when it comes to casting choices for the show's characters, it is expected that there would be some pros and cons. In certain cases, the casting choices are perfect matches for the characters they portray in the show and deliver a performance that benefits its reputation; in other cases, some actors that fail to live up to the expectations. As a result, their poor performance not only affect their characters, but the show as well.

In this list, we will look at some of the shows best and worst casting choices. Half of these choices are responsible for providing the show its stellar reputation, while the other half is unfortunately comprised of actors who failed to make us believe in their characters, negatively impacting the show itself.

Here is a list of The Casting Decisions That Saved And Ruined The Vampire Diaries!

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16 Ruined: Zach Roerig - Matt Donovan

In terms of appearance, Zach Roerig bears a striking resemblance to his character's novel counterpart, Matt Honeycutt. However, despite Matt's importance in the novels, Roerig's performance downplays Matt's role, cornering him as an extra more so than a supporting character.

In the novels, Honeycutt is very loyal to his friends, even willing to risk his life to help them. While Matt demonstrates a similar mindset in the show, he also carries a dislike for vampires, even if he is friends with some. Matt’s hatred of vampires often puts him at odds with his friends like Bonnie and Elena. In some cases, he even goes as far as torturing them, notably Damon and Stefan.

Another downfall of Roerig’s performance is his failure to make Matt stand out: Matt comes off as one-dimensional, easily overshadowed by other similar characters, like Alaric Saltzman. Even the actor portraying Jeremy does a better job at standing out than Matt does.

15 Saved: Candice King - Caroline Forbes

Caroline Forbes in Vampire Diaries

Candice Accola (later King), was an ideal choice to represent Caroline Forbes in TVD. From her first appearance, it did not look like she would excel beyond her role as one of the most popular girls in high school. However, if there is one thing Caroline taught us, its that it would be unwise to underestimate her.

In comparison to others, Caroline development is by far the most surprising - originally, she was just another one of Damon’s victims, manipulated to satisfy his own carnal desires and vampiric hunger.

She eventually manages to defy all expectations, going from an everyday human to a fearsome creature of the night. Candice’s performance allows Caroline to transition into a mature and strong woman who can stand against any threat that comes her way, be it mundane or supernatural.

14 Ruined: Steven R. McQueen - Jeremy Gilbert

Jeremy in The Vampire Diaries

Unlike most characters in TVD, Jeremy has no counterpart in L. J. Smith's novels. He instead replaces Margaret, who is Elena's younger sister in the books.

Unfortunately, Steven McQueen often fails to make Jeremy stand out, and his attempts to express Jeremy’s emotional turmoil are not all that convincing. Early in the series, Jeremy appears as a troubled youth struggling through life, all the while relying on drugs to numb his sorrows, which inevitably lead to more prominent troubles once the supernatural gets involved.

In moments like Vicki’s demise or his attempts on his own life, McQueen does not properly express the emotional turmoil Jeremy is faced with. If anything, he rather comes off as a nuisance who spends most of his time lamenting the terrible events that plague his life.

While it is difficult to ignore just how terrible Jeremy was, he was thankfully able to grow out of it, giving way to a more fleshed-out character.

13 Saved: Paul Wesley - Stefan Salvatore

At the start of TVD, Paul Wesley, assuming the role of Stefan - Elena's lover and protector - does a decent job to portray Stefan as a kind and caring individual, who resists his vampire instincts. Only as of season 3 do we learn that Stefan was not always such a valiant protector.

He actually used to be a ripper: a type of emotionless vampire that takes pleasure in eviscerating and tormenting his victims. After a tense encounter with Klaus, Stefan is compelled to repress his human emotions, which results in him returning to his old visceral, ripper persona.

In that moment, a new side of Stefan is introduced: a side so dangerous and ruthless that it puts even Damon to shame. Wesley’s ability to transition from hero, to villain, to anti-hero demonstrates why he is one of the show's best actors.

12 Ruined: Scarlett Hannah Byrne and Teressa Liane - Nora Hildegard & Marie Louise

Nora and Mary Louse dance in angel and devil outfits on The Vampire Diaries

Both Scarlett Byrne and Teressa Liane respectively play Nora and Marie, two Heretics - strange vampire/witch hybrids. In addition, both Nora and Louise are the first gay couple to appear in TVD.

Despite their status as antagonists, they were considered fan favorites due to the hardships they faced as a couple. In the past, they were rejected and persecuted by other covens and humans alike, either due to their love for each other or simply their status as Siphoners. In the modern day, they were finally able to truly be themselves.

Unfortunately, the popularity of Byrne and Liane's characters ended up backfiring when they were killed off in “Days of Future Pasts”. The decision to kill off the popular characters resulted in explosive backlash from fans, which coincidentally happened at a time LGBTQ characters from other shows were also being killed off.

11 Saved: Ian Somerhalder - Damon Salvatore

Vampire Diaries Finale Damon

Ian Somerhalder was deemed the ideal choice to play the part of Damon Salvatore. A stark contrast to Paul Wesley's Stefan, Ian Somerhalder goes above and beyond to capture Damon’s sadistic, sarcastic bad boy personality.

As the show progressed, admiration for Somerhalder’s portrayal of Damon continued to increase. Damon started off as an antagonist who took delight in manipulating and hurting others and thanks to Somerhalder's acting, was able to evolve as a character.

Despite the harm he caused to characters like Jeremy and Alaric, Damon proved that he could be a valuable ally. This process of going from enemy to friend did not feel forced and flowed perfectly with the shows plot, which just goes to show that no one else is able to pull off Damon as well as Somerhalder.

10 Ruined: Nina Dobrev - Elena Gilbert

Nina Dobrev in The Vampire Diaries

The casting of Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert didn't come without it's set of controversy. One of the biggest issues causing fan backlash was that Dobrev did not look anything like the Elena from Smith’s books, who was blonde.

In addition, fans also complained that Stefan and Elena’s infatuation early in the series was all too similar to that of Twilight. The traditional cringey hot vampire guy and high school girl falling for each other routine is so cliché.

It got a little better when she became a vampire: she became stronger, both physically an emotionally. Sadly short-lived, Dobrev ended up leaving the show in season 6; marking the beginning of the end for the series.

While Dobrev may have failed as Elena she did make up for it as someone else…

9 Saved: Nina Dobrev - Katherine Petrova

In addition to playing Elena, Nina Dobrev also plays the role of her ancestor, Katherine Petrova. As one of TVD’s most popular antagonists, Katherine is a huge transition from how Dobrev portrays Elena.

From the moment she attacks John Gilbert at the end of season 1, we see an entirely new side of Dobrev. As Elena Gilbert, she is vulnerable to most threats, and often relies on her friends to get herself out of danger; while as Katherine she is a confident, ruthless, and powerful femme fatale.

If anything, Katherine serves as the highlight of Dobrev’s performance in the entire series, far outclassing the role of weak Elena. This transition from good to evil serves as a testament to Dobrev’s potential as an actor.

8 Ruined: Mia Kirshner - Isobel Flemming

Assuming the role of Isobel, Mia Kirshner successfully takes on the identity of a ruthless and powerful woman. As Isobel, she demonstrates that she is not afraid to use threats and deceit to get what she wants, even if it means hurting those she loves.

While she may not be the best wife or mother, she still goes to great lengths working behind the scenes to keep her daughter safe. Unfortunately, this turns out to be her undoing as Klaus later compels her into killing herself.

As a character who played such an influential role, it was disappointing to see her killed off so soon. In comparison to other minor characters like Matt or Jenna, Isobel had much more potential.

While she is not a bad actress, the decision to part ways with Kirshner so early affected the show in a major way.

7 Saved: Matthew Davis - Alaric Saltzman

Despite being just a regular person, Alaric proves himself to be essential to the show's plot as the strongest and most resilient human in TVD.

Even though he is no longer their teacher, Alaric still serves as a valuable mentor to Elena and her friends. After the death of Elena's aunt, Alaric steps up to serve as the father figure to siblings Elena and Jeremy.

Despite dying so many times, he always finds a way to come back to life and continue fighting. He even temporarily becomes both an enhanced Original and a ghost, before regaining his humanity.

Matt Davis describes Alaric as a significant part of his life, having spent almost his whole thirties playing that role. Sure enough, Matt’s chemistry with the other actors proved not only significant to the show, but also a remarkable life experience for himself.

6 Ruined: Olga Fonda - Nadia Petrova

Even though she is a vampire, as well as Katherine's long-lost daughter, Nadia shows a compassionate side in matters involving Katherine. In a way, Nadia serves as the light to Katherine’s darkness.

She proved to be a potential means through which Katherine could find redemption for her past transgressions. Sadly, Nadia indirectly serves as the catalyst that eventually results in Katherine becoming the literal ruler of Hell.

Furthermore, Olga Fonda fails to properly take advantage of Nadia’s status as Katherine’s daughter. What should have been a dominant female character, turns out to be a girl who spends her whole life searching to please her mother.

When she first meets Katherine, she shows such a dominant and independent side of herself, which unfortunately disappears as she demotes herself and appears content with satisfying Katherine’s needs, over her own.

5 Saved: Daniel Gillies - Elijah Mikaelson

As the first Original to appear in TVD, Elijah made quite the impact. Ironically, both Daniel Gillies and the shows writers had no idea what to do regarding Elijah's future in TVD. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gillies reveals that Elijah was supposed to be something of a hitman destined to die early in the show’s narrative.

Fortunately, Gillies made the most of Elijah’s potential, and it was decided that he would remain. Not only is he an important figure in TVD, but also in its spin-off series, The Originals. Since his first appearance, Elijah has made some significant strides as a character; while he may have been somewhat of a monster at first, it became clear that there's a spark of humanity burning within him.

All in all, Elijah has come a long way since he first appeared as “the monster in a suit.

4 Ruined: Malese Jow - Annabelle “Anna” Zhu

Shortly after losing his primary love interest Vicki, Jeremy meets Annabelle. At first, Malese Jow does a decent job portraying a potential love interest for Jeremy. Despite being a vampire motivated by her mother's needs, Anna ends up falling for Jeremy.

Anna’s drive to find her mother is an essential aspect that defines who she is as a character. Although Jow emphasizes Anna’s obsession with her mother, she fails to display the necessary emotion to pull off a convincing performance.

Her return in season 3 as a ghost allowed her and Jeremy to rekindle their relationship. Unfortunately, all she does is ruin Jeremy’s relationship with Bonnie, whom he was seeing at the time. Honestly, she and Jeremy should have just kept things platonic after her death.

3 Saved: Joseph Morgan - Niklaus "Klaus" Mikaelson

Similarly to Elijah, Joseph Morgan's character also had an uncertain future. Originally, Morgan’s role as Klaus was only meant to last one season. Thankfully, Morgan’s performance saved Klaus, which led to Klaus making several appearances in following seasons of TVD; he also became one of the main characters in the spin-off, The Originals.

The decision to keep Klaus proved to be a wise one, as in a way it is difficult to eliminate such an important and involved character within the TVD universe. Some instances include: killing Elena’s Aunt Jenna, her mother Isobel, and forcing Stefan to return to his old ripper persona.

When creating Klaus’s role, Morgan claimed to draw inspiration from characters like Lestat from Interview With A Vampire, and Hannibal Lecter from Silence Of The Lambs.

2 Ruined: Paul Wesley - Silas

One of the most intriguing phenomenons, when it comes to the supernatural elements in TVD, are the Doppelgangers.

When it was first revealed that Elena was a doppelganger to Katherine (technically making her a supernatural being), it gave the show a certain mystique that made it stand out.

After a while, the doppelganger connection lost some of its magic thanks to the show's unfortunate habit of repetition. This makes it quite frustrating when it was revealed that Stefan is the doppelganger of the antagonist Silas.

Silas was certainly interesting as a villain; manipulative and ruthless, he would've made Hannibal Lecter proud. His impact becoming less influential over time, due to Paul Wesley's performance.

After bearing witness to ripper Stefan, Wesley’s Silas just didn't have the same impact.

1 Saved: Chris Wood - Malachai Parker

Kai Parker in The Vampire Diaries

Malachai “Kai” Parker is one of the most popular and most powerful antagonists in TVD. His sociopathic nature, coupled with his ability to drive anyone to madness made him the highlight of both seasons 6 and 7.

Even Chris Wood admits that playing Kai was an amazing experience for him. With only an initial description of Kai's personality, Wood made preparations to carefully craft his character. Not only does he deliver a chilling performance, but he also proves himself capable of adapting and evolving alongside his character. When Kai underwent an emotional transition, Wood’s performance showed a stark contrast to his former personality, leading the audience to believe that Kai had a possible chance at redemption.

Sadly, this chance at redemption went up in smoke once Kai returned to his old self with a vengeance.


Who's your favorite actor on The Vampire Diaries? Let us know in the comments!

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