Few shows have featured as many on-screen deaths as The Vampire Diaries. During its eight seasons, nearly every main character died. A lot of them didn't end up being permanent because dealing with the supernatural the way The Vampire Diaries did allow them to play loosely with these things.
Even with most deaths being undone, they still carried a lot of emotional weight. Sometimes it was because a beloved character was gone, other times it was the impact it had on those closest to them, and other times it was because of some heroic act. Whatever the reason, we've narrowed it down to the ten deaths we feel were the most heartbreaking.
10 Carol Lockwood
Though Carol Lockwood was never a main character, her death still carried a lot of weight with the viewers. Mother to werewolf Tyler, Carol was one of the first humans we see who is aware of the existence of vampires. She was something of a villain early on, but she grew into a loving mother figure.
What made her death so sad was the circumstances surrounding it. Carol was murdered in cold blood by Klaus as revenge when he found out about Tyler's plan to kill him. The sight of a blood-covered Klaus drowning Carol as snow falls around them set to a chilling rendition of "O Holy Night" is haunting. Not a merry Christmas at all.
9 Lexi Branson
Not often does a character make their debut in an episode, die by the end of it, and leave so many fans so crushed. That, however, was the case for Lexi Branson. In the eighth episode of the series, "162 Candles," we first see Lexi. She's Stefan Salvatore's best friend who shows up to celebrate his birthday.
At the time, Damon was plotting behind Stefan's back. One of his dastardly moves involving him staking Lexi in order to look like a hero in front of the humans of Mystic Falls. Fans grew to love the bond between Lexi and Stefan quickly, so losing her so promptly was devastating. She remained a fan favorite and appeared in a handful of episodes until the show ended.
8 Elizabeth Forbes
Like Carol Lockwood, Liz Forbes was an adult character who remained human throughout the series. The way she comes to accept her daughter Caroline as a vampire showed a lot of growth, and her friendship with Damon was one filled with sweet moments. It wasn't anything supernatural that ended Liz's life. Instead, she passed away from cancer during season six. Caroline losing her loving mother was enough to make this a heartbreaker, but the flashbacks of their relationship shown as her life ended caused the waterworks to start for many viewers.
Season one strikes again. Jeremy Gilbert starts dating Anna, and the two immediately became a favorite couple. Even when we find out that Anna is a vampire who knew Katherine back in the 1800s, we still can't help but like her. The whole reason she helps to open the tomb of vampires is to get her mother out and not to hurt anyone.
Her death came as a result of her trying to protect Jeremy. John Gilbert sets off his device that hurts vampires, and she gets incapacitated by vervain. From there, John stakes her helpless body in front of Damon. It marked another considerable loss for Jeremy, who had already been through so much in just about 20 episodes.
Rose is another in a long line of characters who made a significant impact in a short time. Played by Lauren Cohan long before her days on The Walking Dead, Rose formed a bond with Damon Salvatore as she helped him uncover information about the Originals. Rose becomes the first vampire to suffer from a werewolf bite, showing viewers how serious of a threat they are. Her suffering is lessened when Damon helps give her a warm dream. The two share a conversation before he stakes her as a mercy kill. The scene is as beautiful and heart-wrenching as they come.
5 Jeremy Gilbert
Death is often not permanent on The Vampire Diaries, and Jeremy Gilbert is a prime example of that. However, this season four death still hurt a ton. He and his sister Elena had lost countless friends and family members throughout the show, but they always had each other. That all changed when Silas came into play. On the mission to find the world's first immortal, Katherine masqueraded as Elena to trick Jeremy. She fed him to Silas, who snapped his neck. Jeremy's dead body was sad on its own, but when you add in the reaction Elena had when she found out, it becomes genuinely devastating.
4 Enzo St. John
No character that entered this show as late as Enzo St. John did was as beloved. The charismatic vampire started as a cellmate of Damon's during the 1950s. Damon betrays him and leaves him to die, so Enzo turns off his humanity. He eventually becomes a series regular in the final three seasons.
During his time on the show, Enzo becomes the love interest of Bonnie Bennett. His love for the witch is so powerful that it keeps him from falling under full control of the siren Sybil. Unfortunately, Enzo is brutally killed by Stefan in one of the last episodes of the show. It came as a shock, especially since Enzo was about to set off on a happy life with Bonnie.
3 Jenna Sommers
When the show begins, Jenna Sommers is the parental figure in Elena and Jeremy's lives. As their aunt, she takes over when the Gilberts die in a car crash. For two seasons, Jenna was an innocent human who we all liked. Her bond with her family and Alaric Saltzman were endearing.
Jenna's death makes a strong case for the most tragic in series history. She is turned into a vampire by Klaus purely to be used as a sacrifice during a ritual to release his werewolf side. He is successful in killing her, right in front of Elena, who helplessly watched as another parental figure was taken for her. And all for selfish reasons she had nothing to do with.
2 Stefan Salvatore
Stefan Salvatore is a character who died a few times on the show. His season five death is the one we're listing here. Julian, a traveler, takes over the body of hybrid Tyler Lockwood. His purpose was to cause the death of a doppelganger, and a season prior we found out that Stefan was a doppelganger of Silas.
Using Tyler's immense power, Julian rips Stefan's heart from his chest in one swift move. Stefan dies in the arms of Caroline, who screamed for help as he faded away. Fans had been clamoring for the Stefan/Caroline romance to grow, and it seemed to end here. He eventually came back, but this remains a heartbreaker of a death.
1 Alaric Saltzman
Speaking of characters who died multiple times, there's Alaric Saltzman. He might have the record for most deaths in one show. Alaric goes through hell in season three before his dark alter ego works with the witch Esther to become an Original Vampire. The plan was for him to kill Klaus and be the "vampire to end all vampires."
Alaric took back control and decided it was too dangerous to complete his transition. He accepted that death was coming and had a string of emotional goodbyes with everyone. The most heartbreaking came as the bromance between him and Damon came front and center. Their goodbye left everyone in tears, even if Esther came in and ruined it moments later.