Finding love in The Vampire Diaries’ Mystic Falls takes nerves of steel. Couples in supernatural soaps face challenges a lot nastier than they’d find on Dynasty or The O.C.
Boyfriends who have an evil brother who’s a vampire, significant other’s lost loves from a hundred years ago who just moved back into town, greatest rivals who are also doppelgangers, and bad-boy boyfriends whose body count that makes Hannibal Lector look like a wannabe.
There's also a much higher chance of your true love losing their life than if they were on, say, Dawson’s Creek. Or of them returning as a angry ghost or a hungry vampire. Plus there are the regular problems of TV romance: breakups, pregnancy, choosing between lovers, adjusting to cast changes. The last two seasons would have been very different if Nina Dobrev hadn't left.
Out of all that sturm and drang, here are eight romantic couples that made Vampire Diaries a better show and seven that worked against it. It’s not a complete list: couples that were neither awesome nor awful aren’t included. The standards for each category include character interaction, the romantic arc, and whether the relationship was just an awful idea.
Here are 8 Couples That Hurt The Vampire Diaries (And 7 That Saved It).
15 HURT: Caroline/Alaric
Caroline Forbes has one good romance on this list, Alaric Saltzman two. The relationship they shared was not one of them.
Season 6 introduced viewers and most of the characters to the Gemini Coven. It got its name because, in each generation, a pair of twins born to the coven must fight to the finish. The winner of “the Merge” becomes a double-strength witch and the coven leader. Alaric’s lover Jo had been born a Gemini but walked away rather than battle (and probably lose to) her evil twin Kai. By the end of season 6, she was pregnant with a new set of twins.
On Alaric and Jo’s wedding day, Kai attacked and eliminated her, destroyed the other Gemini and became a witch-vampire hybrid like the Heretics. Damon ended him, but that couldn’t save Alaric’s twins. Oh, wait, Caroline has a womb — let’s magically put them inside her!
By season 7, which is set three years later (with flashbacks mixed in), she’s gone from being surrogate mom to the twins to being in a relationship with Alaric. He loves her, while she cares about him but still loves Stefan. But she has kids, and he's their daddy, so what the heck, let's do it!
The show didn't pretend Caroline/Alaric were a great couple. It still didn't work.
14 SAVED: Elena/Stefan
Elena doesn’t know anything about Stefan Salvatore when she meets him. Only that he’s friendly, charming, good looking, and makes her feel alive for the first time since a car accident took her parents' lives. Before long, of course, she learns Stefan is a vampire. The only reason she didn’t drown with her parents is that Stefan saved her.
This is the romance that started it all.
Stefan loved Elena from the moment he saw her. Only later did we learn she was the double of his lost love/sire Katrina). Producer Kevin Williamson said that the original essence of the show was “Stefan and Elena both dealing with loss and grief and trying to learn how to live again.”
Learning the truth about Stefan doesn’t stop Elena loving him - not even when it draws her into conflict with his angry, bitter brother, Damon or into the dangerous supernatural history of Mystic Falls. Had the show ended with season 2, Stefan would probably have sacrificed himself to save Elena. Instead they broke up, but both found other loves and remained friends.
It was Damon who Elena ended up with, but it took a few seasons before he was anywhere near ready for a relationship. Stefan was ready from the get-go.
13 HURT: Bonnie/Enzo
Enzo and Bonnie's pairing had quite a few fans, but somehow it never quite gelled.
When Enzo first appeared, his big relationship was with Damon Salvatore, and it wasn’t a warm one. They’d been trapped by the Augustines, a cabal of mad scientists, and become friends while imprisoned together. Enzo, who’d been a prisoner longer, gave his blood ration to Damon to make the latter strong enough to bust them both out. When Damon finally made his move, a fire broke out and Damon abandoned Enzo, even though he believed his friend wouldn’t survive.
Enzo survived, but was set on revenge. Years later Enzo tricked Stefan into ripping his heart out, believing that losing his life at Stefan’s hands would torment Damon best. Enzo’s spirit survived, and eventually returned to life, which let him torment Stefan some more.
As an anti-hero, Enzo was fun.
His later relationship with Bonnie, when they were on the run from the Armory felt more like a plot twist than a natural development.
Even so, by the end of the series, Enzo, though he’d passed on, remained Bonnie’s greatest love. As the apocalypse looms, Bonnie’s ready to go into the light and join him. He convinces her to live her mortal life to the fullest instead.
12 SAVED: Jeremy/Vicki
Nobody rates season 1’s Jeremy Gilbert and Vicki Donovan as one of TV’s great romances. Their thoroughly dysfunctional relationship did a lot to establish Vampire Diaries’ tone.
In the aftermath of losing their parents, Jeremy coped even worse than Elena. By the time the show begins, he’s in self-destructive, addicted mode. The closest thing to a light at the end of the tunnel is Matt’s sister Vicki Donovan, who shares Jeremy’s interests misbehavior; what she’s not interested in is romance. When Jeremy declares his love and proposes they get clean, she drops him for Tyler, ASAP.
Then Damon Salvatore blew into town, hot on the heels of Stefan. Over the course of the first season, Vicki became his victim, then became a full-fledged vampire. She struggled to follow Stefan’s advice and not take lives, but given her addictive personality, you can imagine how well this worked. Stefan ended up staking her, though she returned briefly as a ghost.
The relationship encapsulated a lot of what lay ahead for Mystic Falls.
Teens who are anything but clean and respectable. Unpleasant fates visited upon people who don’t deserve them. Lovers getting their heart ripped out - metaphorically in this case. Lovers who refuse to fade away when their life expires.
11 HURT: Nora/Mary Louise
2016 was a bad year to be a TV lesbian. First Lexa was shot on The 100. Barely a month later, lesbian vampires Nora Hildegard and Mary Louise wound up blowing themselves to kingdom come.
The two vampires were members of the Heretics, a group of witches turned by Stefan and Damon’s vampire mother, Lily. When Mary Louise and Nora appeared in season 6, they were the first lesbian couple on the show. Like many of the series’ vampires, they mixed a capacity for cruelty and mayhem with a deep, passionate, total love for each other. It was that much more intense for having lived through centuries when gay relationships were considered an abomination.
They did break up over internal Heretic feuds, but in season 7 they get back together (“133 years is not enough. I want eternity”). Unfortunately for them, among the many ideas that first post-Elena season tossed around was Rayna, a relentless vampire slayer.
After Rayna cut Nora with her Phoenix Sword, she would have been able to track the couple down anywhere. To escape, and to save all the straight vampires, the women explode the sword and themselves. With them went Mystic Falls' entire lesbian community. Unlike many other characters on the show, the women did not return to life.
10 SAVED: Jenna/Alaric
Alaric’s season 1 relationship with Jenna was great. Like Jeremy and Vicki, it started out as a normal, human relationship, but that didn’t last. It was also one of the rare adult relationships we saw on the show, Sure, Stefan and Damon are almost bicentennial in age but they date teens.
As Elena’s aunt, Jenna moved into the home after the Gilbert parents’ accident, serving as the substitute Mom. It wasn’t entirely a natural role for Jenna, who'd probably have felt more comfortable partying with Elena than reining her in. Then she met Alaric, Jeremy’s widowed history teacher, and things began looking up.
Being Mystic Falls, things soon started looking down. Alaric was a secret vampire hunter, avenging his wife Isobel, who was alive, and a vampire, and Elena’s birth mother. There are no simple relationships in Mystic Falls.
Despite all that, the couple struggled to work everything out. If this had been General Hospital, they might have had a shot at a happy ending. Instead Klaus, one of the Original vampires, needed to sacrifice another vampire in a mystic ceremony. Rather than use Caroline, he bit Jenna, turned her into a vampire, and then offered her up. So much for happy ever after.
9 HURT: Caroline/Klaus
Caroline and Klaus Mikaelson really had a great chemistry, but their relationship still hurt the show.
Klaus and brother Elijah debuted in Vampire Diaries before becoming spinoff stars on The Originals. If not for the spinoff, this couple would almost certainly have happened. Klaus Michaelson appeared in Mystic Falls with a mission: break the curse that limited his werewolf/vampire hybrid nature. Accessing his full abilities would make him invincible and that’s what he wanted. Then he met Caroline. To his surprise, found himself wanting more.
No question, the two played off each other well. Klaus shows himself as genuinely warm and caring the more time he spends with Caroline. But Klaus is a monster.
Admittedly having a significant other with blood on their hands is normal for Vampire Diaries. Still Klaus is exceptional, a guy who makes Stefan in his Ripper mode look like a Boy Scout.
Despite his feelings for Caroline, Klaus is a nasty piece of work. Just witness his coldblooded willingness to sacrifice Jenna instead of Caroline.
He’s not exactly the most emotionally together character on the show either. Klaus has a boatload of family issues, kept them locked up for decades, and never seems to forget or forgive a slight. Perhaps Caroline dodged a bullet — though her appearance on The Originals may mean she hasn’t dodged it completely yet.
8 SAVED: Katherine/Stefan and Damon
As Elena, Nina Dobrev got to enjoy romantic relationships with the Salvatores. As her evil doppelganger Katherine, she also got to have negative, unhealthy bad-girl relationships. They started in the 19th century, when she gave them her blood to drink, leading to them becoming vampires.
By that point Katherine, born Katerina Petrova, had spent around 400 years running from Klaus, who planned to use her in the ritual to free his werewolf side. She returned to Mystic Falls in the hopes he’d settle for Elena as a substitute. When that plan fell through, she fled, returned, sought revenge on Elena for being happier than she was, and tried manipulating the Salvatores back under her thumb. She’s a busy woman.
Eventually magic reverted Katherine to her true age and she perished. But on Vampire Diaries, that didn’t stop her for long. She eventually rose in the afterlife to become Queen of Hell. Then in the final series episode, she plotted to destroy Mystic Falls but Damon, Stefan, and Bonnie destroyed Hell first, while she was in it.
If Vampire Diaries had an archvillain, it was definitely Katherine. Her tangled relationship with the Salvatores made it that much more fun to watch Dobrev be bad.
7 HURT: Stefan/Valerie
Stefan, like Alaric, gets two good relationships on this list, and one weak one. Valerie is that weak link.
Valerie first appears as one of the Heretics. It turns out she’d been a very serious romance for Stefan years earlier, when Lily sent Valerie to check on her son.
The romance never felt like the great love the show kept insisting it was. Stefan had a much stronger connection with his platonic vampire buddy, Lexi.
Nevertheless, when Nina Dobrev’s departure left the show Elena-less in season 7 — which bounced between events separated by a three year span — Stefan, despite being happily bonded to Caroline, wound up getting back together with Valerie. The show’s time-fractured story arc showed how the couple eventually want on the run from Rayna Cruz, slayer of vampires, and her accursed Phoenix Sword.
In the end though, Valerie, while working magic on Stefan, saw in his mind that when he thought of “home” it was a home with Caroline in it, not her. He didn’t love Valerie the way she loved him. Valerie saved Stefan’s life, then left it.
Surprisingly for Vampire Diaries, she was able to walk out instead of being carried out — no tragic fate, she simply departed to find her own destiny and perhaps a new love.
6 SAVED: Caroline/Stefan
Given that TV characters can fall into eternal love after an hour after saying "Hi," Stefan and Caroline were a surprisingly slow burn. Heck, they didn’t even truly get together until season 6.
In season 1, Caroline found Stefan attractive, but he had eyes only for Elena. Later, when Stefan saved Caroline from Damon, they did become friends. In S2, after Damon turned Caroline, Stefan became her mentor and voice of decency, keeping her from becoming just a bloodsucking fiend. That bond would sustain them for several seasons, though after Elena moved on to Damon, Stefan found himself feeling more than buddy-thoughts about Caroline.
As so often happens, though, problems got in the way of true love. Stefan didn’t want to bring it up while Caroline’s mom was dying of cancer. When he tried after her mother’s passing, Stefan found Caroline had turned off her human emotions to cope with the grief. They did get together eventually, but then Valerie came along and Stefan wound up running from Rayna with her.
In the end, Stefan returned to Caroline. Transformed into a human, he married her, only to discover Katherine, his sire/former love, was about to destroy Mystic Falls. Rather than let Damon lose his life stopping her, Stefan, with Caroline’s blessing, sacrificed himself.
5 HURT: Bonnie/Jeremy
In some ways, Bonnie Bennett and Jeremy Gilbert suffered through a lot of typical TV romance highs and lows. He’s the cute younger brother of her best friend, she’s a beautiful slightly older woman. They’ve had problems with exes and substance abuse. This being The Vampire Diaries, they’ve also had to cope with being trapped in prison worlds, Bonnie being stuck in spirit form, and Jeremy discovering his destiny as a vampire hunter.
Of the three besties Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline, Bonnie had the least love-life activity over the run of the show. She spent far more of her time working to master magic, fighting off danger or using magic to save everyone else, frequently at the risk of her own life.
Her and Jeremy’s first attempt at a relationship started in season 2, then ended when she found him kissing another girl. Their second relationship ended when Bonnie perished, though of course she came back later. Eventually they just parted as Jeremy, having discovered he was a hunter, wanted to be off slaying vampires more than he wanted to make out.
Perhaps their lackluster relationship is for the best. The series ends with Caroline a mom/schooteacher, Elena a doctor married to Damon, and Bonnie traveling the world independently. That’s a neat mix of life choices.
4 SAVED: Matt/Rebekah
Matt Donovan is an amazingly lucky guy. He survived eight seasons of Vampire Diaries staying flesh-and-blood the entire time. Mortal characters drop like flies in Mystic Falls, but he survived.
Romantically though, he wasn’t so lucky. At the start of the series, Elena had already broken up with him in the aftermath of her parents’ accident. In the final episode, his happy ending didn’t include a girlfriend, just becoming sheriff and maybe running for mayor. In between there was some romance, but it was sparse.
The most memorable? Klaus’s sister, Rebekah Mikaelson.
Klaus resurrects her — like the rest of his family she’s been locked away in a coffin — when he needs her for his plans in Mystic Falls. When Rebekah met Matt, she discovered he was just what he seemed to be, a normal, decent human being, something she’d have liked to be herself. While the family’s schemes made connecting difficult, they did anyway.
At the end of season 4, Rebekah convinces Matt to join her on a summer in Europe, getting hedonistic and forgetting about duty or vampire hunting.
He jumps at the chance. Even though Rebekah has to leave soon after their return, he didn’t regret a second of it. From the glimpses we see, Matt will probably be thinking about the summer with a smile when he’s ninety. And he might just survive that long.
3 HURT: Silas/Amara
Elena’s malevolent doppelganger Katherine juiced up the show nicely. Silas and Amara, the ancient root of much of what bloomed in Mystic Falls, just made everything more complicated.
As viewers and most of the characters learned in season 4, Silas had been a powerful witch two millennia earlier. Although bound to marry the love-smitten witch Qetsiyah, Silas' heart belonged with Amara, Qetsiyah’s handmaiden. He tricked Qetsiyah into brewing a potion he used to render himself and Amara immortal, so that their love could last forever.
Because immortality imbalanced the forces of nature, the potion caused the later birth of mortal doppelgangers such as Stefan and Elena. The doubles' mortal lives expiring, generation after generation, kept things into balance. Another side effect was the creation of the Other Side, the limbo in which holds the souls of witches after they perish. Qetsiyah hoped to trap Silas there with her, away from Amara; if centuries of witches were trapped too, so be it.
Their relationship explained a lot about the show’s mythology, but also complicated it tremendously.
Given the convolutions, and that Silas/Amara lacked the oomph of Stefan/Elena, even with the same actors in both roles, it’s safe to put this one on the “hurt” side.
2 SAVED: Jo/Alaric
Despite being a Gemini witch, Dr. Josette Laughlin racked up a pretty good human life before we first met her. Fearful her brother Kai would win the Merge and end her life, Jo left the coven, becoming an Army medic and an MD. Too bad her career path led her to the hospital in Mystic Falls.
She and Alaric started striking sparks off each other as soon as they met. Jo was also a valuable ally as she knew about magic and vampires. They soon got horizontal and turned out to be a great couple. Before long, Alaric put a bun in her oven — actually twin buns, following the coven tradition.
Jo and Alaric were young, happy, in love and had everything to live for — so of course, the romance was doomed.
After Jo left the coven, the Gemini eventually locked Kai up in a prison dimension. Bonnie and Damon, unfortunately, got trapped their two and Kai used them to help escape. On Jo’s wedding day, Kai terminated his twin with extreme prejudice. She didn’t return to life, and so we wound up with Caroline/Alaric. It wasn’t a good trade-off.
Like most of the characters who didn’t survive to the end of the series, Jo does find happiness in the afterlife, as the ending of the final episode confirmed.
1 SAVED: Elena/Damon
When a show establishes itself around a core romance such as Elena/Stefan, it’s not easy to switch gears. It’s to Vampire Diaries’ credit that the show pulled that off, swapping out Stefan for Damon, who ended the show as Elena’s true love.
It’s certainly nothing anyone would have predicted when Damon first appeared. Stefan was the good guy, Damon his dark and dangerous mirror with bad boy attitude over a vicious inner core. Still bitter that Katherine had chosen Stefan, his sole goal in life was to make his brother miserable.
Under the vicious inner core, however, the decent Damon he’d once been was still buried. As he settled into Mystic Falls, the decency kept resurfacing. Elena and he became frenemies, then friends, partly because she was willing to call the petulant vampire on his crap. Eventually, she left Stefan’s embrace and found herself in Damon’s arms instead.
Had Dobrev stuck with the show, that might have changed. Writer Julie Plec has said she and Kevin Williamson would have loved to restore the Stefan/Elena/Damon triangle for the last two seasons. With Dobrev gone, her love for Damon became the default setting, finally and happily resolved when Stefan turns him mortal in the last episode.
Which The Vampire Diaries couple is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!