One of the most popular and well-received shows in CW history was The Vampire Diaries. It ran for eight seasons, sparked the careers of some truly talented actors, and spawned two successful spin-offs because audiences just wanted to stay in the world they created. Most of the viewers who loved it miss it dearly. That desire to relive the series leads fans to rewatch their favorite moments.
Exhilarating fight scenes, emotional character deaths, heartwarming romances, shocking plot twists... this series had it all. There are so many stellar highlights that it's difficult to pick which episodes to watch again. To help narrow down the decision, check out the ten highest-rated episodes in The Vampire Diaries history according to IMDb. For this list, we only included episodes with over 1,000 reviews on IMDb to get the best of the best.
10 "As I Lay Dying" (Season 2, Episode 22)
A lot of The Vampire Diaries fans seem to agree that Season Two was the high point of the series. Its finale, "As I Lay Dying," kicks off this list. There's tense drama around every corner in this episode. Damon was bitten by a werewolf and is on the verge of death, but Elena doesn't forgive him for forcing her to drink his blood.
To save his brother, Stefan seeks out Klaus and discovered that his blood is the cure for a werewolf bite. Elena shared a kiss with Damon just as Katherine arrived with the cure, setting up major plot threads for Season Three. Elsewhere, Jeremy was shot and resurrected by Bonnie, but it had a side effect causing him to see his dead ex-girlfriends. A lot was going on in this episode, earning it a 9.0 score on IMDb.
9 "Home" (Season 5, Episode 22)
"Home" wrapped up the show's fifth season and picked up following an emotional cliffhanger. Stefan was killed and Caroline opens the episode mourning him. He's actually trapped on the Other Side. While there, fans were treated to the return of several deceased characters like Alaric Saltzman, Lexi Branson, and Sheila Bennett.
Bonnie and Damon came up with a plan to bring back those they lost from the Other Side. They get help from Liv, Matt, Jeremy, and others, causing the kind of team effort that this show gave us when it was at its best. This was another installment with a 9.0 rating.
8 "The Return" (Season 2, Episode 1)
When Season One wrapped up with our first look at Katherine in the present, Season Two's premiere had to deal with the fallout. Since The Vampire Diaries was never a show to move at a slow pace, most of the characters figured out that Elena was back quickly. The real treat was watching Nina Dobrev play both Katherine and Elena.
Mason Lockwood arrived, Tyler struggled with possibly being supernatural, and Damon snapped Jeremy's neck in a fit of rage. The episode ended with Katherine killing Caroline, which caused her to turn into a vampire. That's a huge moment that elevated Caroline into one of the best characters on the show. The third straight episode to score 9.0 on IMDb.
7 "The Reckoning" (Season 3, Episode 5)
Part of what made Season Three work so well was the addition of the Originals. "The Reckoning" saw all the characters come back together for the first time in the season. Klaus couldn't create the hybrid army that he wanted because Elena was still alive. To rectify that, he killed Tyler and turned him into a hybrid, demanding that Bonnie fix it or he'll die.
Klaus also compelled Stefan to feed on Elena if Bonnie didn't find a solution. That placed high stakes on the episode almost immediately. It moved at a fast pace, was filled with drama, and set up a ton for the future, earning this episode a 9.1 rating.
6 "Masquerade" (Season 2, Episode 7)
This episode brought everything together in terms of the Katherine story arc, as the characters attended a masquerade ball. Elena, Stefan, Damon, Bonnie, and the rest of the good guys came up with a seemingly perfect plan to stop Katherine, but she had backup plans for everything, remaining one step ahead of them.
Eventually, the witch Elena had working for her turned against her and helped imprison Katherine in the tomb. Almost lost in the rest of this incredible episode was Tyler triggering his werewolf curse by killing someone. This still might be rated a little too low at 9.1.
5 "You Made A Choice To Be Good" (Season 8, Episode 11)
Once a show knows that it's wrapping up, it can fill many of those final episodes with important moments. This was the first time Season Eight gave fans something like that. Stefan and Damon were put in a compromising position by Cade and it led to one of the most shocking endings in The Vampire Diaries history.
As he arrived to do the deed, Bonnie extracted the cure from her body. Stefan responded by ripping Enzo's heart out, murdering someone who had become a fan favorite. Coming at the end of an episode featuring a romantic road trip for Bonnie and Enzo made it a true heartbreaker. This episode holds a 9.2 rating.
4 "Graduation" (Season 4, Episode 23)
Once again, The Vampire Diaries ended a season on the highest possible note. "Graduation" saw the main cast finally graduate from high school but there was a whole lot more on the line. The veil between the living and the Other Side was down, leading the dead to return to Mystic Falls to settle old scores.
The highlight was arguably Klaus' surprise arrival in the nick of time to save Caroline and her friends. He then gave her a touching graduation present to show how much he cares for her. The episode also ended with a huge shocker, as Stefan discovered that he was a doppelganger of Silas. The IMDb rating for this installment is 9.2.
3 "Founder's Day" (Season 1, Episode 22)
Season One built up to "Founder's Day," which was a celebration teased for several episodes. This gave us our first look at the Damon/Alaric tag team as they attempted to stop John Gilbert's plan to kill all the vampires in Mystic Falls.
The lives of both Stefan and Damon were in jeopardy, Bonnie took a stand for what she felt was right, Tyler got affected by a supernatural device, and Jeremy made a decision that had serious consequences behind it. All those plot threads came together for an episode that was filled with thrills and scored a 9.2 on IMDb.
2 "I Was Feeling Epic" (Season 8, Episode 16)
The finale to end all finales. After 171 episodes, The Vampire Diaries came to an end by saying an emotional farewell to the characters we had come to love for nearly a decade. The series gave us a peek at the happiness and peace that each character found after death.
The building of the school for supernatural children with funding from Klaus was nearly the best moment, but the real kicker was the final minutes. Elena meets with her family members and the Salvatore brothers in the afterlife, ending the series on the perfect note. This episode has a 9.3 rating.
1 "The Departed" (Season 3, Episode 22)
Season Three came to an end with "The Departed." It was so good, it would have worked as a series finale. In it, the neutralized Klaus was more vulnerable than ever before and newly turned Original vampire Alaric was on the hunt for him. There's a moment where Alaric staked Klaus and it looked like every vampire in his sire line (including Stefan, Damon, and Caroline) would die.
Rebekah forced Elena off the road and she drowned, which also killed Alaric as part of a spell. Elena's death seemed to be the end until it was revealed that she she died with vampire blood in her system. That changed the entire direction of the series and this episode amassed a 9.4 rating.