Television series end all the time. Even long-running shows end, unless they happen to be called The Simpsons or Supernatural. Tonight on The CW, by the choice of the creative talents behind it, The Vampire Diaries ends its run after 8 seasons on the network.
People might not remember this, and folks at the network may deny it, but in 2009 under the eye of Dawn Ostroff, soapy shows by way of Gossip Girl were the priority. The long-running Smallville was shipped off to Friday nights practically alone with only Top Model repeats to pair with it, and it still kept going, no matter how many times Dawn tried to kill it. I feel like most of the promotion that summer was to The CW’s update of Melrose Place which included folks like Katie Cassidy in its cast. And then, on Thursday nights, here was this vampire show, and it ended up being a bigger hit than Melrose and, to me, was The CW’s first really big success story.
I was familiar with the lead actors from The Vampire Diaries. Paul Wesley (then Wasilewski) was Lex Luthor’s quickly-forgotten half-brother Lucas on Smallville. Ian Somerhalder was also a Smallville veteran, having played “Adam Knight” for an arc in Smallville Season 3. And then there was Nina Dobrev, whose work I knew quite well from her role as Mia on Degrassi: The Next Generation. The last time a Degrassi veteran headlined a CW show before her, Shenae Grimes, played a character I couldn’t stand on Degrassi; I actually liked Mia, though, and I appreciated Nina’s performance. It seemed like a good cast, at least.
I recall seeing the pilot in the summer of 2009; I wrote a review that was lost to the sands of the Internet, but it’s now reposted here on KSiteTV if you’re curious. It’s interesting that I wasn’t sure about some of the casting at first, though I did note “maybe they want people who won’t age much if the show lasts a long time,” which was right. Thinking back to that first season, I remember loving the pilot, the next one or two were a little shaky, but then it was somewhere around Episode 5 – when the Salvatore brothers’ names were seen on the old town ledger – that I realized that “this show is amazing.”
Kat Graham’s Bonnie became a fast favorite for me, though I will be the first to admit that the character’s cycle every season – starting off with losing her powers, then learning how to get them back, then disappearing for a few episodes, then getting her powers back but using them too big usually ending in tragedy – did get old at a certain point, which is a shame, because I’ve always liked the actress. And admit it, everybody: We all hated Caroline when the show started (but not the fabulous Candice Accola, now Candice King), and once she became a vampire she became so much cooler.
The other thing I remember about those early years of TVD is how every episode had crazy cliffhangers, but nothing will ever replicate the feeling I had watching the Season 1 finale of the show. You surely remember it, too: Damon and Elena kiss, we all think it’s hot, and then Elena goes into the kitchen and starts taunting Uncle John. By the time some fingers get chopped you realize: It’s not Elena after all!
Nina Dobrev didn’t get the accolades she deserved for her dual role of Elena and Katherine, which is a shame, because she really was fantastic. Katherine was always amazing, but what I loved about Elena, at least in those early years, was she was the polar opposite of the “Bella Swan” type that was popular in Twilight. Elena was her best when she was assertive and would go for what she wants, and Nina played that very well.
So many great characters and actors came in through the years that I think I’d be leaving someone out if I listed all of them. TVD really became an ensemble, and I appreciated that so many actors always seemed to come back, even after they get killed off — a trend that seems to be continuing with tonight’s finale. The show took directions at time that I thought were very unexpected.
Covering The Vampire Diaries as press allowed me some experiences that not everyone might have had. The most memorable — even more than visiting the set! — was always to interact with Executive Producer Julie Plec. She’s one of us, you all. Sometimes I felt like if she wasn’t running the show, she would have been its biggest fan. And, yes, one of my proudest moments was making a joke about “you wouldn’t kill Sheriff Forbes, would you?” and how quickly Julie just moved on from the question. I really did not know what was coming. Julie is still running The Originals, so we’re not done with her just yet, and that makes me happy. I also have to shout out to her TVD collaborator Kevin Williamson. Dawson’s Creek was one of my favorite things ever when it premiered, and getting to meet the man who created it was something special.
And, finally, the sets! The Salvatore mansion, especially, was always a favorite of mine. I would have loved to have seen Elena’s house. Interviewing the cast at Comic-Con was also very fun.
I am grateful that The Vampire Diaries introduced me to other cool people in the fan world. Red and Vee, you are missed, though I’m glad you’re still out there somewhere. I can’t think of a single “fan site” that respected others’ content and linked to the appropriate original source more than Vampire-Diaries.net did. Great folks. And I thank those who visited KSiteTV and our TVD portal that existed for a while, VampireSite.net. Our Vampire Diaries forum still exists, by the way, and you should come visit tonight.
Was I a Delena, Stelena, Klaroline, Steroline, or any kind of shipper? Admittedly, no. If fans asked nicely for me to ask about them, I would, because my own policy on this website is to try to give fans the kind of information they needed. I was mostly on for the life or death, the character moments, and to continue to see what happens in Mystic Falls. I guess relationships are a part of that, but I wasn’t swayed if it went one direction or the other.
It’ll be sad to say goodbye to The Vampire Diaries tonight. But I have a feeling it will be something epic, and I’m so glad The CW allowed them to go out on their own terms. And hey, unless something tragic happens, Matt Donovan made it all the way through… who would have expected that?