Eight years ago, we were taken our first trip to the town of Mystic Worlds, and we fell in love with The Vampire Diaries.
We watched characters fall in love, break up, die, get turned into vampires, you know, the usual.
Below, some of our writers discuss the final season and reflect on the overall course of the show. Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts in the comments.
Our panelists are:
- Christine Laskodi, associate editor for Tell-Tale TV
- Shabnaj Chowdhury, staff writer for Tell-Tale TV
- Amanda Steinmetz, staff writer for Tell-Tale TV
- Shadia Omer, staff writer for Tell-Tale TV
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank the final season overall?
Shabnaj: This is tough, because I think Season 8 was the weakest season of the show as a whole, so I’d probably give it a 3 or something like that.
But, as for the show in its entirety, I would give it a 7.5 because the first two seasons were truly fantastic and made me an obsessive fan at 15 years old. And, I feel like the show did a good job in emotionally connecting you to the characters throughout its run.
Amanda: I would give the final season an 8. I felt like the last few seasons haven’t been cohesive, but the fact they knew the show was ending made the writers focus on tighter storytelling and less time spinning their wheels with filler episodes.
Christine: I’d give the final season a 5. I wasn’t a fan of re-visiting the Stefan ripper story. Everything involving Sybil aggravated me. I hated the choices made for Matt. Caroline felt a little off to me.
This wasn’t the way this show should have gone out. But then again, maybe it would have been better if they’d chosen to end when Nina Dobrev was leaving — and the creativity was higher.
Shadia: I’d rank the final season a 5. This final season could have had so much potential in delivering a kick-ass final season, but with the whole heaven and hell debacle going on, it wasn’t as interesting. Something was missing to make it AMAZING.
The storyline with Sybil, Selene, and Cade were too dragged on and quite honestly was so unnecessary. That whole storyline didn’t interest me.
Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if they just initially ended the series after Nina left. All in all, season 8 could have gone way better given the fact that the writers knew Season 8 was the last season and it wasn’t like the show got canceled abruptly, you know?
Are you happy with the ending?
Shabnaj: I’m sad to say that I’m mostly dissatisfied with the ending.
I understand why the writers chose to kill Stefan off as he was the hero of the show, and it would have the most emotional impact for Stefan to die a hero – a poignant bookend to Stefan’s initial “this is my story” line from the pilot.
But, for me, it would have been more poetic and fitting and just for Damon, who had promised Stefan a lifetime of misery, who has inflicted a lot of misery arbitrarily throughout the years, and who had seldom done the right thing, to have this one final act of selflessness and let Stefan, who was the more empathetic and unconscionable brother, get to live happily as a human and a newly married man, and of course for Elena to finally move on from the Salvatore brothers once she awakened.
I also think it would have been cool to see Damon perish alongside Katherine given that Damon had dedicated so much of his life pining after her and was so hell-bent on bringing her back. I would have loved that symmetry of him being the one to finally destroy her.
I’m also sour about Stefan dying on Caroline on their wedding night. I was really rooting for them.
Amanda: Aside from the obvious plot holes, I was mostly satisfied with the ending. I felt horrible for Caroline to lose her husband just after marrying him, but I always thought that if one of the Salvatore brothers was to die, it would be Stefan.
Had this series ended a few years ago, I would say that it could have made sense for Elena to live a life without the Salvatore brothers, but there was no way to have that come to fruition unless both brothers died.
While the ending was a tad rushed, I thought the moments between Stefan and Damon were really emotional and satisfying. Their love story was always my favorite part, and watching them fight over who would die to save the day made me happy in a weird way.
Even though Bonnie got the raw deal the majority of the series, I thought her story wrapped up in as satisfying a way as possible (aside from Enzo being dead). She got to survive and thrive and finally put herself first and explore the world.
Christine: I’m about as satisfied as I could be, given the circumstances, I suppose. It really stinks that the series deviated so much from the books because I love the original story they told there, and I’d always hoped the show would visit it. (Spoiler alert: they never did.)
I suppose I understand why Stefan needed to die, but I’d have much preferred a different arc for him in general. I struggled so much with ripper Stefan. I really struggled with his storyline with Caroline this season – the payoff of the wedding came too quickly and then ended just as soon.
Damon and Elena’s ending was confusing — I’ve had numerous conversations with people who’ve just been baffled by the entire thing. I think I understand what the writers were inferring for all of them, but I’m not your typical TV viewer, being someone who reviews television regularly.
Many of my friends and family couldn’t understand who was alive, who was dead, what heaven and hell were — and I’ve had to explain the Stefan/Elena reunion scene more times than I can tell you. There are some aspects that need more explanation, and when a longtime show is ending viewers NEED that explanation for closure.
I liked seeing Bonnie step up front and center. Her story was the only one that felt like it came full circle for me — she was just playing with magic in the pilot and controlling it in the finale. That was amazing, especially given the journey she took along the way.
Shadia: Ah man, the ending. I still keep going back and forth about it; it’s weird. Right when we knew that Stefan was officially human, it just felt so obvious that he would be the way to bite the dust. However, I didn’t think the writers would actually go with it! My initial theory of who was going to die was actually someone else.
But I understand the whole reason behind Stefan being the one to die. When you think of it, the show has been “his story” this whole time and not much of Elena’s.
He was played out to be the hero of the show and the good Samaritan guy compared to Damon. Though like how Shabnaj mentioned, it would have totally been poetic if Damon was the one that died instead.
Stefan wanted to atone to all of this sins, all the bad things he’s done, and you could see the resentment and guilt in him. But Damon killed so many characters on this show that deserve justice aka Tyler. I am still irritated at his death and the way that the writers handled it *sad face*
I’m glad the characters got their happy ending. For Bonnie it was a happy ending, but not the exact one I hoped for her.
And another part of the finale I found slightly odd was Damon and Elena’s reunion. What was that?! Everything about their reunion was off. It’s like the chemistry just vanished, and Damon’s joy was not noticeable at all to me. It’s like we waited 2 years for this reunion, and it could have been so much better.
What was this season’s biggest mistake?
Shabnaj: The show is at its best when it has a clear, coherent villain. In season 1, it was Katherine. In seasons 2 and 3, it was Klaus and The Originals. In season 6, it was Kai.
This season lacked a worthy villain. Sybil and Cade were pretty ineffective and forgettable. Katherine being the mastermind behind it all was revealed in the show’s eleventh hour and didn’t give us enough time to revel in it.
In terms of story, I think the whole hell and devil concepts were really weak, and instead I would have liked the show to get to its basics, and maybe do a simpler story line that paid homage to its origins and somehow brought in werewolves and witches as adversaries.
Amanda: I think this season’s biggest mistake was spending too much leading up to the reveal of Cade. Maybe then the reveal that Katherine was the true mastermind could have happened two or three episodes sooner.
Christine: We’re all in agreement. The lack of a true villain was frustrating. I loved the idea of Katherine being the true mastermind — but I’d have liked more breadcrumbs leading to it and more time to enjoy it.
Shadia: I agree with Shabnaj, Amanda, and Christine on this one. There was no true big bad villain that really had you invested. It was like they were there just to pass through the episodes.
Though finding out Katherine was mastermind of this all was a nice twist, but I wish they had introduced that earlier in the season. Just so that we could enjoy all her drama more!
What was the biggest surprise of the season?
Shabnaj: I’m surprised that after all was said and done, Bonnie still got short-changed out of a truly happy ending.
Is there something empowering about her getting her magic back through a painful loss, and for her to travel the world and find new happiness for herself? Sure, yeah, to some extent.
But, Bonnie had found this really selfless, soulful love with Enzo, and it finally felt like someone was her equal and who was devoted to her. I think cheating her out of a happy ending with Enzo was disappointing, and by this point in time in the series, it was more important for me, and I was more invested in seeing Bonnie happy with the love of her life than say, Damon and Elena.
Amanda: The biggest surprise for me, plot wise, was the entire sequence of Stefan killing Enzo, and then Bonnie giving Stefan the cure.
On a personal level, I think the biggest surprise for me was how I became so reinvested in these characters. Perhaps it’s because this was the first time I ever started reviewing the show, but I really started to get nostalgic and sad that the show was coming to an end.
This show came into myself as I was entering college and becoming an adult. It’s crazy to think how eight years go by in a blink of an eye. I also really enjoyed thinking back to where these characters and their relationships started.
It’s also interesting to think about the psychology behind what makes us root for characters who’ve done terrible things.
Christine: Enzo’s death, hands down. I mean, I thought surely they’d give Bonnie ONE break, and let her be happy. She was OWED that.
The writers continually crapped on Bonnie. They ruined her and Jeremy. They killed her, they took away her magic, they killed her family and friends — why did they need to take away Enzo? That just felt cruel and unnecessary.
Shadia: No humanity Stefan killing Enzo and Bonnie giving the cure to Stefan. Those few minutes in that episode was absolutely BRUTAL to watch. I didn’t expect Stefan being the one to kill Enzo, such a painful scene.
But Bonnie giving Stefan the cure was a twist I didn’t see coming, and she just had to do anything her instincts told her in that moment. Also, Bonnie deserved so much more, and I would have thought the writers would have given her that. At least given her Enzo, but nooo.
If you could change one thing that happened throughout the course of the show, what would it be and why?
Shabnaj: My answer is twofold: The lopsided triangle and Elena’s vampirism. I know folks got tired of the love triangle by the middle of the series — myself included — but I thought that it really anchored the show, and I have a pet peeve about shows losing their original premise completely (which many shows tend to do when they’ve approached their veteran seasons).
While I still believe the most important relationship on the show is between the brothers, I’d prefer if the triangle loomed subtly and quietly in the background and retained its relevancy.
I hated how once Elena became a vampire, the love triangle became so heavily in Damon’s favor (coming from a then Delena fan), and how her choice between the brothers was made so early on in the narrative. I think there could have been more room to breathe and have her explore other options and slow things down.
Instead, she went from this beautiful relationship with Stefan to this destructive relationship with Damon, and it was really heavy-handed and overbearing. It kind of ruined the show.
And, it might be simplistic to say, but I don’t think it was ever right to turn Elena into a vampire.
I was against it from the get-go, and I think the show suffered from those changes, and their attempts to “darken” the show were obvious and inorganic. Something is to be said about keeping a sense of purity within the show, and I think that should have always been represented through a human Elena.
Amanda: I have to disagree with Shabnaj. I was so relieved when Elena made her choice. Yes, I was more on the Delena side of the shipping wars, but I also can’t stand love triangles that drag on. By the time she officially chose Damon, we were in Season 4. That is plenty of time to narratively explore a love triangle.
I always wanted the show to be more than the love triangle. These characters had so many layers to them. Other, more important, aspects of their lives deserved to be explored. At the heart, the Salvatore brothers’ relationship was always at the core.
With Nina Dobrev leaving the series, the writers were finally able to really delve into their rich and complicated relationship without “the girl” being at the center of it. I also think Elena turning into a vampire was inevitable from the get-go.
If there is one misstep the writers made time and time again, it was focusing far too much time on outlier characters and storylines that never really went anywhere. I prefer tighter plots with forward momentum. Also, aside from Katherine, The Originals, and Kai, the villains weren’t always the most compelling.
Christine: I agree TOTALLY with Shabnaj when it comes to Elena’s vampirism. For me, Elena becoming a vampire was the beginning of the end of the series.
I loved human Elena. I never saw her as a whiny human, as I know many others did. I actually found her to be much more spirited and strong as a human.
Elena was never sidelined despite her lack of supernatural abilities. She somehow still managed to stand strong. She made her own choices, and Stefan supported them, even when he didn’t agree with them. That was a big part of why their dynamic worked.
And just to throw my two cents in on it, I was relieved that the triangle ended when it did.
I kind of feel like Elena ended up having two loves of her life. Human Elena had Stefan — she chose Stefan. Vampire Elena had Damon — she chose Damon. That was that. I didn’t want to see that triangle get revisited over and over for the next 4 years. (Though, I DID want a Stelena reunion. But that obviously wasn’t happening.)
Shadia: Definitely Elena’s vampirism. I personally preferred human Elena rather than vampire Elena. There was something about human Elena that made her character so interesting and complex.
And once Nina left the show, they had the chance to really dive into the other main characters much more and that didn’t quite happen.
The love triangle got too much at some point. But even though Elena chose Damon in season 4, Kevin Williamson did say that if Nina didn’t leave the show, Stelena would have been endgame.
So does this mean we would have another love triangle going back and forth again? That would have been extra messy.
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