The Vampire Diaries is a supernatural drama television series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, based on the book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. The series premiered on The CW Television Network on September 10, 2009. The series takes place in Mystic Falls, Virginia, a fictional small town haunted by supernatural beings. The main focus of the series is the love triangle between the protagonist Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and vampire-brothers Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder). As the narrative develops in the course of the series, the focal point shifts on the mysterious past of the town involving Elena's malevolent doppelgänger Katerina Petrova and the family of Original Vampires, all of which have an evil agenda of their own.
The pilot episode attracted the largest audience of any series premiere since the network began in 2006. The first season averaged 3.60 million viewers. The show initially received average reviews, but critics agreed that the series improved over the course of the season with both the second and third season premiering to generally favorable reviews. The show has received numerous award nominations, winning two People's Choice Award and many Teen Choice Awards.
On February 11, 2013, The CW renewed the series for a fifth season. On April 26, 2013, The CW has officially announced that the spin-off The Originals has been ordered to series, set to premiere in the 2013–14 television season. The fifth season will premiere on October 10, 2013.
The series follows the life of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a 18-year-old girl who falls deeply in love with a 163-year-old vampire named Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley). Their relationship becomes increasingly complicated as Stefan's vicious and malevolent older brother Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) returns with a plan to wreak havoc on the town, seeking revenge against his younger brother for turning him into a vampire against his will. Both brothers begin to show affection towards Elena, mainly because of her resemblance to their past love Katherine Pierce. It is revealed that Elena is a descendant of Katherine, who eventually returns with plans against the trio.
The series is set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town charged with supernatural history since its settlement of migrants from New England in the late 17th century. Additional storylines revolve around the other inhabitants of the town, most notably Elena's younger brother Jeremy Gilbert (Steven R. McQueen), her best friends Bonnie Bennett (Katerina Graham) and Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), and their mutual friends Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino) and Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig). The town's politics are orchestrated by descendants of the original founding families, all comprising a "Founders' Council." Some of the founding families of Mystic Falls include the Salvatores, the Gilberts, the Fells, the Forbes, and the Lockwoods. They guard the town mainly from vampires, although there are other supernatural threats such as werewolves, witches, ghosts, and hybrids.
Although the show is based on the books of the same name and the main story lines from the books are maintained, many of the characters are changed. Beginning in season one, ten characters received star billing, with one being written out and another being promoted.
Nina Dobrev portrays Elena Gilbert, the main protagonist, and her doppelgänger Katherine Pierce, also known as Katerina Petrova, who was originally the main antagonist of the second season, but as the season progresses she becomes the secondary antagonist of the second season.
Paul Wesley portrays Stefan Salvatore, a good-hearted and affectionate vampire, and the complete opposite of his older brother, Damon Salvatore. Later in the series, Stefan reverts to his old ways as a Ripper and his role becomes more antagonistic. He also portrays his revealed doppelgänger Silas, the main antagonist of the fourth season.
Damon Salvatore is portrayed by Ian Somerhalder, the malevolent vampire brother who, in the beginning, serves as the show's anti-hero; however, he shows a kinder, more caring side as the series progresses.
Other cast members include Steven R. McQueen, who portrays Jeremy Gilbert, Elena's younger brother, later revealed to be her biological cousin and a member of The Five, a vampire hunter. Jeremy is killed in Season 4 after being thrown onto Silas by Katherine and getting attacked by Silas while trying to get the cure and is resurrected by Bonnie Bennett in the season 4 finale Kat Graham, who portrays Bonnie Bennett, Elena's best friend, who is also a witch that lost her grandma . Candice Accola portrays Caroline Forbes, Elena's other best friend who was insecure and her occasional rival at first but becomes a vampire in the second season, making her more mature as a person. Zach Roerig portrays Matt Donovan, Elena's childhood friend and ex-boyfriend, who later becomes romantically involved with Caroline. Michael Trevino portrays Tyler Lockwood, a werewolf later turned into a hybrid, Jeremy's rival, Matt's best friend and son of the mayor of Mystic Falls; male members of his family have been shown to carry a lycanthropic trait. In season three, Joseph Morgan joins the main cast after being a guest star in season two, as Original Vampire Klaus, the main antagonist of the second, and third season.
Former cast include Matthew Davis joined the cast as Alaric Saltzman, a history teacher, vampire hunter, and love interest for Jenna. He died towards the end of Season 3, after a link formed with Elena was severed when she drowned. Sara Canning portrays Jeremy and Elena's aunt and legal guardian, Jenna Sommers, who is killed at the end of the second season after being turned into a vampire and used for Klaus' ritual. Kayla Ewell portrayed Vicki Donovan, Matt's troubled older sister and girlfriend of Tyler and then Jeremy. She was written out of the show in the seventh episode of the first season, after being turned into a vampire by Damon and killed by Stefan.
Initially, Kevin Williamson had little interest in developing the series, finding the premise too similar to other vampire tales. However, at Julie Plec's urging, he began to read the novels and started to become intrigued by the story: "I began to realize that it was a story about a small town, about that town's underbelly and about what lurks under the surface." Williamson has stated the town's story will be the main focus of the series, rather than high school.
On February 6, 2009, Variety announced that The CW had green-lit the pilot for The Vampire Diaries with Williamson and Julie Plec set as the head writers and executive producers. On May 19, 2009, the series was officially ordered for the 2009–2010 season.
The pilot episode was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, but the rest of the episodes have been filmed in Covington, Georgia (which doubles as the fictional small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia) and various other communities around Greater Atlanta, to take advantage of local tax incentives. On the morning of May 10, 2012, a fire broke out in the building on Clark Street in Covington that was used as the setting for Mystic Grill on the show.
The series was given a full, 22-episode order on October 21, 2009 after strong ratings for the first half of the season. On February 16, 2010, The CW announced that it had renewed the show for a second season, which premiered on September 9, 2010. On April 26, 2011, The CW renewed the show for a third season. The third season premiered on September 15, 2011. The fourth season premiered October 11, 2012. The CW renewed the show for a fifth season on February 11, 2013.
President of The CW Mark Pedowitz said in an interview at the summer TCA's that The Vampire Diaries didn't receive an extra episode order at the request of Kevin Williamson. "Kevin Williamson felt to do the best show possible he would rather do 22. I'd rather have a great 22 than a good 24 if Kevin couldn't do it," he explained.
The Vampire Diaries initially received mixed reviews. Metacritic gave the show a Metascore of 50 based on 22 critical reviews, indicating mixed to average reviews. Entertainment Weekly gave the pilot a B+, declaring that the show "signals a welcome return to form for writer-producer Kevin Williamson". Reviewer Ken Tucker ended his review by writing that "Diaries promises us a season of sharp-tongued amusement." Linda Stasi of the New York Post gave the premiere a perfect score, saying that she was "hooked after one episode". Stasi praised the pacing of the episode and the "vicious, bloody vamp action", which "starts in the opening scene and continues throughout The Vampire Diaries with such ferocity and speed that it's truly scary." Conversely, San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman gave the episode a highly critical review, calling the series "awful". Goodman disliked the dialogue and hoped that the extras on Buffy the Vampire Slayer would "return en masse to eat the cast of Vampire Diaries, plus any remaining scripts."
Many TV critics felt the series improved with each episode. Sarah Hughes of The Independent says The Vampire Diaries turns into "a well-crafted, interestingly developed series", despite a poor opening episode. The New York Post also praised the portrayal of Elena, finding the character to be a strong-minded woman who did not allow her feelings for her boyfriend to control her. Karla Peterson of The San Diego Union-Tribune said that "the supernatural drama is a first-class production, featuring an insanely gorgeous cast, sharp scripts and a brooding vibe that is hard for even the most levelheaded adult to resist." Mike Hale of The New York Times gave the series an honorable mention on his list of the top TV shows of 2009.
The show's second season opened to favorable reviews from professional television critics as it received a 78/100 score on Metacritic. As the series progressed and developed onto the third season, critics praised the portrayals of the main characters and the development of the female characters such as Elena Gilbert played by Nina Dobrev and Caroline Forbes who is played by Candice Accola.
The third season finale, The Departed, opened to generally positive reviews. Diana Steenbergen of IGN praised the episode and the writers for clearing up a couple story lines and making all of them come to a head. She also praised Dobrev's performance in this episode, addressing her behaviour as another reason the final revelation from Meredith was more shocking and believable. Similarly, Mandi Bierly of Entertainment Weekly review praised the writer's skills in creating the more unexpected final twist.
|150px||Pilot||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec||Director: Marcos Siega||September 10, 2009||#01x01|
|Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, Elena Gilbert and her brother, Jeremy are still trying to move on with their lives. As the school year begins, Elena is fascinated by a mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore. The two are immediately drawn to one another, not knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire. When Stefan brother Damon arrives in Mystic Falls, an old rivalry between the two begins, that could be the ruin of Elena and the town comes to light.|
|150px||The Night of the Comet||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec||Director: Marcos Siega||September 17, 2009||#01x02|
|As Mystic Falls prepares for a festival to celebrate the passing of a comet, Vicki is in the hospital recovering from the attack that she can barely remember. Template:Stefan goes to the hospital and tries to use his abilities to make sure Vicki doesn't remember what really happened, but his attempt is cut short when Vicki's brother Template:Matt arrives. Elena meets Template:Damon for the first time, who reveals surprising information about Stefan's past.|
|150px||Friday Night Bites||Writer: Barbie Kligman & Bryan M. Holdman||Director: John Dahl||September 24, 2009||#01x03|
|Template:Elena tries to ignore Template:Bonnie's warnings about the disturbing vibes she got from Stefan. Tyler tries to embarrass Stefan by throwing a football at him, but Stefan effortlessly catches and passes the ball back, impressing everyone with his skill. When Stefan tries out for the team, Mr. Tanner reluctantly lets Template:Stefan join the football team. Elena invites Stefan and Bonnie to dinner, hoping that the two will bond, but the evening is disrupted by the unexpected and unwelcome arrival of Template:Damon and Template:Caroline. Finally, the town is shocked by an act of violence.|
|150px||Family Ties||Writer: Andrew Kreisberg & Brian Young||Director: Guy Ferland||October 1, 2009||#01x04|
|Template:Elena asks Stefan to escort her to the town's annual Founder's Party. Vicki gets Template:Tyler to ask her to the party, then accuses him of trying to hide their relationship from his family. Zach reveals a useful family secret to Stefan. At the party, Damon tells Elena a story about the Salvatore family's past, leaving Elena with questions that Stefan refuses to answer. Finally, Template:Stefan takes action to get Damon out of his life for good.|
|150px||You're Undead to Me||Writer: Sean Reycraft & Gabrielle Stanton||Director: Kevin Bray||October 8, 2009||#01x05|
|Template:Stefan is hopeful that his plan to get rid of Template:Damon is working. Elena and Template:Jenna are concerned about Jeremy's relationship with Vicki. Stefan decides to reveal parts of his past to Elena. At a fund-raising car wash, Template:Bonnie is surprised by abilities she didn't know she possessed, and seeks advice from her grandmother. Finally, Elena hears a disturbing story that took place in the 1950's about the Salvatore family from a stranger which gives Elena more doubts about Stefan.|
|150px||Lost Girls||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec||Director: Marcos Siega||October 15, 2009||#01x06|
|Template:Elena demands that Stefan explain the frightening events that have been happening in Mystic Falls. In flashbacks, Stefan explains how his rivalry with Template:Damon began. Back in the present, Damon impulsively takes control of Vicki’s future, and a confused and frightened Vicki runs away. Finally, Sheriff Forbes and Mayor Lockwood take steps to protect the town.|
|150px||Haunted||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec (teleplay) Andrew Kreisberg (story)||Director: Ernest R. Dickerson||October 29, 2009||#01x07|
|As Vicki's behavior becomes more dangerous, Template:Stefan tries to help her. Template:Elena tries to convince Jeremy to stay away from Vicki. Caroline gives Bonnie a necklace she took from Damon to wear with her Halloween costume, and when Damon tries to take it back, he is surprised by Bonnie's abilities. Bonnie discusses the incident with Grams and learns more about her family's past. Trying to cheer Vicki up, Template:Matt takes her to the high school's haunted house, but the evening soon takes a terrifying turn.|
|150px||162 Candles||Writer: Barbie Kligman & Gabrielle Stanton||Director: Rick Bota||November 5, 2009||#01x08|
|On his birthday, Template:Stefan is surprised by a visit from Lexi, one of his oldest friends. Still upset by the events at the Halloween haunted house, Elena does her best to stay away from Stefan, but Lexi gives her some unsolicited relationship advice. Template:Elena and Jenna are surprised by a change in Jeremy's behavior which has changed for the better. At Damon's compulsive insistence, Template:Caroline tries to get his medallion back from Template:Bonnie. Finally, Damon's offer to help Sheriff Forbes has sudden and tragic results.|
|150px||History Repeating||Writer: Bryan M. Holdman & Brian Young||Director: Marcos Siega||November 12, 2009||#01x09|
|Jeremy gets a break from the mysterious new history teacher, Alaric Saltzman, and introduces Alaric to Jenna. Bonnie is having terrifying dreams about one of her ancestors. Despite Template:Elena's efforts to smooth things over, Template:Bonnie and Template:Caroline continue to argue over the medallion. When the girls hold a séance to help them decide what to do, the results are stranger than any of them expected. Template:Matt comes to Caroline's aid when she needs a friend. Damon finally reveals to Stefan the stunning reason he has returned to Mystic Falls.|
|150px||The Turning Point||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec & Barbie Kligman||Director: J. Miller Tobin||November 19, 2009||#01x10|
|After reading the journal left by one of the Gilbert ancestors, Jeremy is inspired to return to his hobby of sketching fantasy creatures, a talent he had abandoned when his parents died. Much to the surprise of their friends, Template:Matt and Caroline continue to hang out together. When Sheriff Forbes tells Template:Damon there has been another attack, he offers to track down the killer and learns a startling piece of information about the town's founding families. Alaric steps in to help during an awkward scene with Jeremy, Tyler and Mayor Lockwood. Template:Stefan and Elena come to a new understanding, but everything changes when Template:Elena accidentally makes a devastating discovery.|
|150px||Bloodlines||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec (teleplay)
Sean Reycraft (story)
|Director: David Barrett||January 21, 2010||#01x11|
|Damon takes a trip to Georgia, where he surprises an old flame, Bree and enlists her help to figure out how to open the tomb. In the process, Damon comes face to face with someone who is determined to make him pay for past wrongs. Stefan opens up to Grams in his effort to help Bonnie overcome her fears and accept her powers. While researching his history paper in the public library, Jeremy meets a cute-but-geeky girl named Anna who has her own theories on the folklore of Mystic Falls. When Damon returns from Georgia, Stefan is waiting with news that will change their world.|
|150px||Unpleasantville||Writer: Barbie Kligman & Brian Young||Director: Liz Friedlander||January 28, 2010||#01x12|
|As Stefan and Damon try to figure out the identity of the new vampire in town, Stefan gives Elena jewelry filled with vervain to protect her family and friends. Hurting for money, Matt takes a job at the Mystic Grill, where former high school football-star Ben, works as a bartender. Ben comes to Bonnie’s aid when he notices Damon is bothering her. Damon and Stefan accompany Elena to a school dance with a 1950s’ theme, where Alaric introduces himself to Damon.|
|150px||Children of the Damned||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec||Director: Marcos Siega||February 4, 2010||#01x13|
|In flashbacks, Stefan and Damon recall the long-ago actions taken by townspeople including their father, Giuseppe Salvatore and Pearl leading to the devastating events that caused the rift in their relationship. In the present, Bonnie's date with Ben takes a frightening turn. Elena helps Stefan as he and Damon race to find the missing journal that belonged to Elena's ancestor. Stefan learns the reason behind Alaric's interest in both the journal and the town's history. Damon discovers that an old acquaintance has returned to town with an agenda he understands.|
|150px||Fool Me Once||Writer: Brett Conrad||Director: Marcos Siega||February 11, 2010||#01x14|
|Stefan helps Elena and Bonnie out of a dangerous situation. Jeremy asks Anna to a party in the woods, unaware that she has her own reasons for wanting to meet him there. When Stefan, Damon and Elena work with Bonnie and Grams to open the tomb, everyone is shocked by what they discover.|
|150px||A Few Good Men||Writer: Brian Young||Director: Joshua Butler||March 25, 2010||#01x15|
|Matt and Caroline are surprised by the sudden reappearance of Matt's mother Kelly (guest star Clarke). Stefan and Elena are worried about Damon's new attitude. Damon is asked by Sheriff Forbes to take part in a fund-raising bachelor auction. Alaric discovers shocking secrets from his own past. With help from Jenna and Stefan, Elena is determined to find out everything she can about her birth mother, but the truth may be more than she can handle.|
|150px||There Goes the Neighborhood||Writer: Bryan Oh & Andrew Chambliss||Director: Kevin Bray||April 1, 2010||#01x16|
|Anna brings a surprising guest along when she pays a visit to Damon. Elena and Stefan go on an awkward double date with Caroline and Matt, but Stefan and Matt find they have some common ground. Jenna reunites with her old friend Kelly, and Jeremy's relationship with Anna takes an unexpected direction.|
|150px||Let The Right One In||Writer: Julie Plec and Brian Young||Director: Dennis Smith||April 8, 2010||#01x17|
|When Stefan and Damon make a dangerous new enemy, Stefan suddenly finds himself in a perilous situation. Damon and Elena try to convince Alaric to work with them to help Stefan. Matt is hopeful that his mom, Kelly, may be back to stay. After her car breaks down in a storm, Caroline make a horrific discovery that shocks everyone in town.|
|150px||Under Control||Writer: Barbie Kligman & Andrew Chambliss||Director: David von Ancken||April 15, 2010||#01x18|
|While Stefan struggles to control his new situation, Elena and Jeremy are surprised by a visit from their uncle, John Gilbert. Template:Alaric has an awkward talk with Elena about Isobel. At a Founder's Day event, Stefan displays a rare party attitude and Damon's attempt to find out why Uncle John has returned to town takes an ugly turn. An incident at the party causes trouble between Matt and Tyler, and the relationship between Matt and his mother, Kelly, reaches a new low. Meanwhile, Elena's effort to comfort Jeremy falls short and he decides to take matters into his own hands.|
|150px||Miss Mystic Falls||Writer: Bryan Oh & Caroline Dries||Director: Marcos Siega||April 22, 2010||#01x19|
|At the Founder's Day Gala, Elena and Caroline compete for the title of "Miss Mystic Falls" against other girls from town, including Tina Fell and Amber Bradley. Elena is happy to have Bonnie back in town, but Bonnie still has issues to work through. John Gilbert attempts to intimidate Damon, but his plan doesn't have the desired effect. Damon discovers that Stefan is hiding a dangerous secret that could impact everyone in town|
|150px||Blood Brothers||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec||Director: Liz Friedlander||April 29, 2010||#01x20|
|While Stefan struggles to come to terms with his past, both he and Damon reveal parts of their history to Elena, until she finally learns the truth about how they became vampires. Pearl has an ugly confrontation with John Gilbert. Damon and Alaric try to find a mysterious invention before John does. The friendship and flirtation between Jeremy and Anna continues to grow.|
|150px||Isobel (episode)||Writer: Caroline Dries & Brian Young||Director: J. Miller Tobin||May 6, 2010||#01x21|
|Isobel returns to town and stuns Alaric with her attitude and her demands that he arrange a meeting with Elena. When mother and daughter finally meet, Isobel refuses to answer most of Elena's questions, but reveals that she will stop at nothing to find the mysterious invention Johnathan Gilbert has been searching for. Isobel's dangerous actions lead Stefan, Damon and Bonnie to step in and help Elena deal with the situation.|
|150px||Founder's Day||Writer: Bryan Oh & Andrew Chambliss||Director: Marcos Siega||May 13, 2010||#01x22|
|The town gets ready for the Founders' Day Celebration, which is the anniversary of the founding of the town. With period costumes, Civil War reenactments and parades with floats, the town will also be filled with grief when someone dies. Meanwhile secrets will be revealed about the big event that connects the town back to 1864. Finally an unexpected someone comes back to Mystic Falls with a devious plot up their sleeves.