The Vampire Diaries: 8 Best Character Arcs (& 7 Most Disappointing)

The Vampire Diaries: 8 Best Character Arcs (& 7 Most Disappointing)

Stefan, Damon, Elena, and their friends were always getting pushed to the limit. Whether it was conflicts with antagonists or with themselves, life was never easy for the Mystic Falls gang. Each character had their struggle at any given time, and with the help of their friends, they needed to push through it to defeat the big bad of each season on The Vampire Diaries.

RELATED: 10 People Stefan Salvatore Should Have Been With Other Than Caroline Forbes

Sometimes the story arcs took the characters on a journey they needed to broaden their perspective. Other times, the plotlines hurt their roles or did not live up to the hype fans had been expecting. Not every storyline went where viewers were hoping it would, while others exceeded expectations.

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Updated December 23, 2021 by Hilary Elizabeth: Considering that The Vampire Diaries aired for eight seasons, it comes as no surprise that many characters got their chance to shine (while others unfortunately completely flopped). From Elena to Caroline, the characters were complex and as a result, so were their storylines.

Best:

Tyler’s Transition Into A Werewolf

Tyler in season 4 of The Vampire Diaries

One of the most quickly and clearly established facts of the Vampire Diaries universe was that Tyler Lockwood was a legitimately awful person who treated even the people he supposedly cared about terribly.

But the discovery of his werewolf gene seemed to explain where all of his unbridled rage was coming from, and when he became a werewolf and then a hybrid, he actually evolved into a genuinely decent person who cared about the greater good rather than just looking out for his friends.

Ripper Stefan

At first, Stefan seems much more in control than his chaotic brother, Damon. Stefan devotes himself to drinking animal blood and avoids drinking from humans. However, the reason for that has nothing to do with hating human blood.

Instead, Stefan has an addiction to human blood, and when he has too much he becomes a Ripper, tearing a human’s body apart to suck up all their blood. It also changes Stefan’s personality, making him a completely different man. Turning Stefan into such a person adds layers to his character and explains why having control is so important to him.

Klaus Mikaelson’s Family Reunion

Kol and Elijah Mikaelson in The Vampire Diaries

The buildup towards the introduction of the Original vampires was enormous, which makes the fact that they actually managed to live up to expectations even more impressive.

Klaus was debatably TVD’s best villain, but his reunion with his almost-as-dangerous family members was one of the best storylines in the entire show. It also allowed every one of the Mikaelson family members to develop as characters, which went over with audiences so well that they wound up with their own spinoff.

Bonnie And Damon’s Friendship

Damon, Bonnie, and Kai in The Vampire Diaries

For the first few seasons of The Vampire Diaries, Bonnie Bennett and Damon Salvatore seemed more likely to kill each other than to become friends. However, when they were trapped alone together in a prison dimension, they literally became besties.

The main love triangle in TVD was such a focal point that many of the characters didn’t seem to get a lot of development outside of that story, and that held especially true for Damon. It was great to see different facets of both characters through their unique friendship.

Caroline Forbes

Caroline underwent one of the most massive character developments, and no part of it was easy. Becoming a vampire may have done great things for her moving forward, but it also made Caroline realize she could not have the human life she had envisioned for herself.

RELATED: Caroline Forbes’s 10 Most Heartbreaking Moments In The Vampire Diaries

Yet, Caroline would accept the change and flourish as a vampire, gaining control of her blood urges. She was compassionate in a way that not many were, which was shown in Caroline’s dynamic with Klaus Mikaelson. Her arc continued into The Originals, calling Klaus out for his actions and encouraging him to reach out to Hope. During Legacies, Caroline has been searching for a way to prevent The Merge for her daughters.

Bonnie Growing Into Her Power

Although she started off wanting nothing to do with magic or saving Mystic Falls, Bonnie Bennett went on a massive journey through her life. However, none of the steps were simple, and Bonnie found herself dead several times before being able to truly start her life.

Too many times, Bonnie was expected to give up something or someone significant to her to save Elena. While Bonnie always stepped up to save her friends, she did not deserve to lose so much. By developing her magic, Bonnie had more chances to save those she cared about — and herself.

Katherine Pierce

Few villains were as developed as Katherine Pierce. Katherine was never going to be a hero, but her story was very tragic. A conflict with Klaus left her with nothing but an excellent skill for fleeing and hiding. For five hundred years, Katherine ran from Klaus, becoming stronger and smarter with every minute.

Rather than a redemption arc, Katherine remains the antagonist on the show. Her growth only leads her down darker paths until she becomes the Queen of Hell. After Cade fails, Katherine steps up to take his place. No character in The Vampire Diaries was nearly as excellent a survivor as Katherine Pierce.

Stefan And Damon’s Brotherly Bonds

Stefan and Damon had been close as humans. But, after Stefan forced Damon to turn into a vampire in 1864, the brothers drifted apart, and Damon promised Stefan an eternity of suffering. The brothers went back and forth between finding their footing and being adversaries. Damon’s arrival in Mystic Falls at the beginning of the series causes a variety of problems for Stefan.

Yet, their dynamic is the most important on the show. While Elena may be significant to Stefan and Damon, their relationship with each other is more important. In the end, Stefan would rather die over Damon and sacrifices himself so that Damon could have the future he wanted.

Disappointing:

Stefan And Valerie

Part of the intense drama that came with the love triangle between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine was that Katherine was meant to be the first epic love for both Salvatore brothers. On Stefan’s part, it was written that Katherine was his first real romance. However, when the Heretics arrived, the audience discovered that was not the case.

RELATED: The 5 Worst Things Damon Did To Stefan In The Vampire Diaries (& 5 Stefan Did To Him)

Before Stefan ever met Katherine, he had been in love with Valerie, and she had been carrying their child before Julian killed the fetus. The storyline did not do much for the show, as Stefan and Caroline wanted to be together and Valerie and Stefan’s romance did not amount to much.

Matt’s Vampire Hate Campaign

Even though many of his friends are involved in the supernatural world, Matt ends up detesting vampires. Vampires, witches, and werewolves continue to attack residents in Mystic Falls, bringing harm to the humans who live there. Getting tired of it, Matt decides to rid his hometown of vampires, including his friends, going as far as to kick Stefan and Damon out of their own house.

However, it also gets particularly personal to Stefan. After Matt hurts Penny, Stefan compels Matt to forget the truth, leaving him to believe that Stefan had been the cause of her death.

Caroline’s Pregnancy

The Vampire Diaries Caroline Pregnant

The show was clearly trying to figure out a way to incorporate actress Candice King’s real-life pregnancy into the plot of the series. And that is largely the problem because they seemed to abandon all of the show’s mythology and basic common sense in order to do it.

The magical baby switch that took Lizzie and Josie from Jo’s body to Caroline’s was absurd, and absolutely nothing about this storyline actually made sense. Plus, the fact that Alaric was the father and the show attempted to create some kind of romance subplot between them was gross.

Kol Mikaelson’s Too-Short Storyline

As an Original vampire, Kol could cause just as much chaos as Klaus. While Klaus was the central antagonist of the Mikaelson siblings, Kol could be just as ruthless. He found amusement in compelling Damon to kill Jeremy, and his laid-back personality showed how dangerous he could be.

However, while Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah are treated as serious threats, Kol is not taken as seriously. Even though it should be tough to kill Kol, Jeremy Gilbert, a new vampire hunter, can defeat him. Kol should have been able to overpower Jeremy and Elena easily. But instead, he dies quickly, and fans were left wondering how much age or strength could matter if an Original could be so speedily killed.

Vampire Elena

Elena behind bars in The Vampire Diaries

For three seasons, fans wondered if Elena would become a vampire. At the end of the third season, it finally happens. Elena’s worst nightmare comes true when she dies with Damon’s blood in her system, thus turning into a vampire. While fans may have hoped that Elena would go through a character development arc similar to Caroline’s, the series took a different approach. Elena’s entire motivation goes toward not wanting to be a vampire, and she struggles with her new reality. Additionally, she does not seem as strong as the other vampires on the show.

RELATED: 10 People Elena Gilbert Should Have Been With Other Than Damon Salvatore In The Vampire Diaries

Yet, that is not the end of the problems. Fans who wished to see the love triangle conclude with Elena choosing Damon were also in for a rude awakening when Elena turned out to be sired to Damon. The sire bond connected Elena to Damon, making her do whatever he wanted her to do. While Elena kept repeating that her feelings for Damon were her own, Damon could not believe it until the sire bond broke, and it really cast a shadow over their relationship.

Elena And Stefan’s Fated Doppelganger Romance

Stefan catches Elena in The Vampire Diaries.

Although Damon and Elena became the most popular ship in The Vampire Diaries and they were ultimately endgame, the foundation of the show was truly built on Elena and Stefan’s supposedly epic love.

And there was no reason to believe that their feelings for each other were anything but genuine until the show decided that Stefan was also a doppelganger and he and Elena were essentially drawn together because their original versions were madly in love with one another. It really cheapened one of the most important ships in the series.

Damon’s Regression

The Vampire Diaries showed Damon’s redemption arc through his connection to Elena. When Elena is placed in a magical coma, Damon reverts to his old self. It brought up questions regarding how much could Damon have changed if he goes back to his worst iteration as soon as he can.

Damon’s moral compass always swung excitingly, but he had tried so hard to be better. It was upsetting to see him throw it all away. During his time with the Sirens, he allowed himself to give in to his dark impulses, doing damage to various relationships and killing Tyler in the process.

NEXT: 5 Times We Loved Damon In The Vampire Diaries (& 5 Times We Hated Him)

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Lindsay Press
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Lindsay Press is a freelance writer. As a graduate of SUNY Purchase College with a degree in Screenwriting and Playwriting, Lindsay has loved television shows and movies since childhood. In addition, she loves to create stories and enjoys dystopian futures, teen drama, and fantasy worlds.

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