The Vampire Diaries ran for eight years from 2009 to 2017; a lot changed in the real world during the time and a lot changed in the show as well. It was the highest-rated show for The CW for a couple years due to the popularity of the vampire genre being at its peak when the show debuted in 2009; thanks to the runaway success of Twilight. Although Twilight ended in 2012, The Vampire Diaries had several more years to retain fan interest and the show did just that. It began with the story centering around Elena Gilbert, but then shifted to focusing on the Damon brothers instead in later seasons.
The actors on the show met with certain successes once The Vampire Diaries had taken off in popularity. The biggest example was when Nina Dobrev departed and the show was revamped. However, there were many storylines in place even before Nina had left. Most of the show’s stories were of high quality, which is why it lasted as long as it did, but there were still a number of plotlines that were anything but home runs. Likewise, there were storylines that were immensely popular and are remembered well to this day.
You can’t have a successful spin-off like The Originals, and for that spin-off to bring about another in Legacies, if the original show wasn’t a success. So, we’re here to remind you the best plotlines and the ones that weren’t all that good.
Here are 8 Storylines That Hurt The Show (And 12 That Saved It).
20 Hurt: Stefan Breaks up with Elena
By the time the third season had ended, fan reception toward Damon and Elena became so loud that the show decided to roll toward that angle and ended Stefan and Elena’s relationship at the start of Season 4.
But this wasn’t implemented the right way as the show had started out with the connection between these two. All of Season 1 had been dedicated to this couple and Elena had outright chosen Stefan in Season 3. Their breakup was far too forced to feel like a genuine story and was mainly an easy way of bringing the Damon and Elena coupling together while preventing Elena from being unfaithful to Stefan.
19 Saved: Damon and Stefan being the true love story
By the later seasons, the acrimony between Stefan and Damon – that had dominated the first seasons – was faded away in favor of the two genuinely loving each other. After Elena was written out, the storyline solely focused on how much the brothers meant to each other.
By Season 8, the real love story of The Vampire Diaries was clearly between the two brothers and the former love triangle was a secondary factor. The final scene of the show even had these two reuniting and Elena being something of an afterthought.
18 Hurt: The cure storyline
After Elena and Damon got together, a lot of storylines were presented to this couple that had them tackling these issues as a team. One of these was the angle that saw Damon and Elena mull over taking the cure for vampirism. It would’ve seen the two becoming human and living a normal life.
However, this story didn’t make sense considering that had the two taken the cure they would’ve turned into the exact age they were as humans. This would’ve made Damon pass away instantly as he was well over 140-years-old at that point!
17 Saved: Elena leaving
When Nina Dobrev had announced her intention to depart The Vampire Diaries, a collective groan of disappointment rang through the fandom as this most likely meant that the show itself would be canceled. However, this was far from the case and not only did the show continue for two more seasons, it then focused on the rest of the characters than the usual Elena/Damon/Stefan dynamic.
It was a good change of direction that showed people that a series can continue despite the main character departing. It also led to the previously mentioned focus on Stefan/Damon’s brotherly relationship.
16 Hurt: The manner with which Damon and Elena got together
When Damon had been first introduced, he had been established a bad guy who was out to ruin the relationship of Stefan and Elena. This was changed to Damon himself falling in love with her, and the fandom rallied behind this couple because Damon was clearly the breakout character.
While everyone wanted to see them together, the manner with which happened left a lot to be desired. There was no real build up, no storylines in place that justified Elena leaving Stefan for Damon. Instead, the two were shoehorned together and the audience had to accept the new normal was the Damon/Elena relationship.
15 Saved: Katherine Doppelganger angle
When Stefan had been introduced into Elena’s life, there was this mysteriousness to him that hinted he had always known her somehow. This mystery about Stefan formed most of Season 1’s story and Damon’s introduction also centered around how he wanted to free Katherine from her tomb.
The reveal that Katherine was the one whose likeness Elena bared allowed the actress to showcase more of her range and made us hate and love her at the same time for playing Elena as well as Katherine. Overall, the doppelganger story allowed for more in further storylines and fresh performances from the actors.
14 Hurt: Bonnie and Elena linked together
Now that Elena was confirmed to be leaving by the end of Season 6, something had to be done to write her off. While it was initially believed her character would be written off, this didn’t turn out to be the case as Elena was instead put to permanent sleep until Bonnie would perish.
This angle, while innovative, had the drawback of turning a portion of the fandom against Bonnie. While it was ridiculous that a real-life departure of an actress would mean in-universe hate, diehard Elena fans weren’t having Bonnie being the reason Elena was permanently asleep.
13 Saved: Jeremy leaving
Jeremy’s departure didn’t really do much to benefit the characters in-universe, but it was a good move for the ones watching the show. This was because up until that point, the character of Jeremy Gilbert was nothing more than extra weight.
He didn’t bring anything to the table and his storylines were hardly memorable. He was mainly there to show Elena’s softer side to fans. After Jeremy departed, the show at least had more screentime to distribute between the rest of the cast rather than wasting it on Jeremy.
12 Hurt: Elena becoming a vampire
Just like a storyline in the Twilight series saw the main character converted into a vampire and going through a lot of changes, the same happened in The Vampire Diaries that featured Elena becoming a vampire as well. Unlike Twilight, Elena’s turn had her character becoming a real piece of work.
She was no longer the sweet-natured girl whom people would turn to for support, and became an awful person that was a pill too hard to swallow onscreen. The show wanted to make her look cool, but she just came across as conceited. It’s a good thing she went back to being human.
11 Saved: Elena falling for Stefan
None of the storylines we saw on the show would have been possible had the first one not been put into place. Elena started having feelings for the brooding stranger in school, which kickstarted the whole of The Vampire Diaries.
It wasn’t a bad kind of love either; when Elena and Stefan had been together, we’d gotten the sense this was two good people forming a relationship while fighting the evil that came in their way. The first three seasons had these two being a couple, with Elena choosing him definitively (or so we thought) by the end of Season 3.
10 Saved: Damon being evil
Damon is known as the breakout character for The Vampire Diaries because he’s not the kind of straight-laced person Stefan was. Instead, he would do the rulebreaking and wouldn’t suffer any fools or traitors. When first shown, he wasn’t the person who had mellowed down in future seasons, and would commit evil acts on a mere whim.
This gave Damon the coolness factor that was required for the audience to take particular notice of him. It also separated his characterization from Stefan and presented both brothers as distinctly different from one another. Plus, it laid the foundation for Damon slowly becoming a good person.
9 Hurt: Bonnie passing away repeatedly
In science fiction and fantasy shows, the concept of passing away is never permanent. Just go watch Supernatural to see how many times its main characters have passed away only to come back soon after. The Vampire Diaries, however, had a lot of members in its cast, unlike Supernatural, and it should’ve had more imagination than was shown in its characters passing away.
Bonnie was one of the characters who had the most endings. Weirdly enough, the first two times it happened it had been her own fault for using her magic to excessive lengths. The impact of people's passings are always reduced with each turn and Bonnie suffered from this.
8 Saved: Damon falling in love with Elena
At first, we were led to believe that Damon’s sole purpose on the show was to antagonize Stefan and form a Big Bad coupling with Katherine. This was changed around the second seasons as Damon instead turned his feelings toward Elena. This angle also presented Damon with much-needed character development and allowed him to continue justifying his role on The Vampire Diaries.
Along with that, fan interest remained sky high as they wanted to see how Damon would go about into acquiring Elena finally for himself. The first three seasons had a lot of sympathies develop toward Damon due to this reason.
7 Saved: Stefan being a doppelganger
This storyline was mainly interesting because of the shock value the finale of Season 4 presented. Silas, the oldest vampire, was revealed to be the one whose doppelganger Stefan was. This was revealed in the final moments of Season 4 and featured a vengeful Silas sealing Stefan underwater.
This gave the show a large hook to out onto viewers who would no doubt tune back in when Season 5 started in order to see what became of Stefan. It would take three episodes of the fifth season to bring Stefan back and a new angle of him turning off his humanity.
6 Hurt: Caroline and Stefan love story
After Stefan broke up with Elena due to the latter’s feelings for Damon, Stefan went a significant spell without being with another person. This gave us the idea that he was now a loner whose storylines would instead focus on fighting vampiric lore rather than love stories.
This wasn’t the case as Stefan was ultimately brought together with Caroline. Like the case was with Damon and Elena, this coupling also brought with it a sense of being forced as Stefan just had to be with someone so why not Caroline? And then he passed away in the finale, which made the whole thing sad.
5 Saved: Damon losing his humanity
After Elena left the show, Damon’s storylines naturally had to be amended to justify him being on The Vampire Diaries. By the end of Season 7, he had switched off his humanity and was seemingly back to his earlier evil ways.
This angle, while sad, was a breath of fresh air as Damon had become too soft due to his association with Elena; his mean streak was now back and we had a reason to tune in to see how he would become a good guy once more. Along with that, Stefan’s quest to bring his brother back also furthered their dynamic.
4 Saved: Bonnie becoming Damon’s best friend
To lay evidence to out claim that Elena’s departure was a good thing, the friendship between Bonnie and Damon was one of the reasons why the new direction of The Vampire Diaries worked. From Season 1 to Season 5, Bonnie and Damon didn’t have a good relationship, but starting from there it evolved into something more.
After Elena left, Damon becoming even more close to Bonnie; so much so that he eventually admitted to her that she was his best friend. This kind of evolution on relationships is the reason why we enjoy watching TV shows in the first place.
3 Saved: Klaus falling in love with Caroline
For most of Klaus’ existence onscreen, he was a guy who would flip-flop between being a completely evil person to someone who could be redeemed. This interesting development in him led to the character receiving his own show in The Originals.
One of the main reasons why Klaus’ progress was interesting was the fact that we saw he could love someone. His feelings growing for Caroline gave Klaus another layer and made viewers question whether he could become a good guy after all. As it happened later, turns out this wasn’t something even his love for Caroline could do.
2 Saved: Bonnie and Enzo love story
This love story came late into the game but ended up giving Bonnie a reason to continue on with her life after the events of the main storyline came to a close. Bonnie and Enzo formed a relationship while Damon became Bonnie’s best friend, and a lot of drama then surrounded around these characters.
Ultimately, their love story wasn’t really to be as Enzo would perish, although promised to watch over her and for her to promise she would live life to the fullest. It wasn’t the best love story, but it wasn’t all bad either.
1 Hurt: the Love triangle between Elena, Damon, and Stefan
Wait, what? You might feel angry that the core storyline of the show is one we’ve branded as hurting it, but that really is the case because a love triangle involving two brothers just isn’t that cracked up to be.
Along with that, the fact that the show centered so much around Elena wanting to choose either Damon or Stefan took a lot of potential out of other storylines. It was only after the triangle definitively ended that we had room for further growth and for Damon and Stefan’s bond to be what it ultimately became.