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 on September 10, 2009, and was renewed by The CW for a second season with twenty-two episodes on February, 16th 2010 and premiered on September, 9th 2010. The Vampire Diaries was officially renewed for a third season by The CW on April 26, 2011 that aired from September 15, 2011 to May 10, 2012. The third season consisted of 22 episodes and focused on the story of Klaus’ origin, his relation with his family and reveal more about the original family. The Vampire Diaries was renewed for a fourth season by The CW on May 3, 2012, seven days before the third season’s finale. Unlike the previous seasons that aired in September, it premiered on October 11, 2012, to avoid competition from major television shows. Season 4 consisted of 23 episodes instead of the usual 22 episodes.
The series takes place in Mystic Falls, Virginia, a fictional small town haunted by supernatural beings. The series narrative follows the protagonist Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) as she falls in love with vampire Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and is drawn into the supernatural world as a result. As the series progresses, Elena finds herself drawn to Stefan’s brother Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) resulting in a love triangle. 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. Ironically, Katerina was the love of both Damon and Stefan Salvatore many years ago. Her return, along with the family of Original Vampires, have all led to many plots against Elena and Mystic Falls.
The pilot episode attracted the largest audience for The CW of any series premiere since the network began in 2006. The first season averaged 3.60 million viewers and following seasons have maintained an audience of over 2 million viewers. It remains the most-watched series on the network. The series initially received mixed reviews, but critics agreed as the first season progressed that the show improved. Subsequent seasons have premiered to more positive critical reception. The show has received numerous award nominations, winning four 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, which focuses on the Original family, has been ordered to series and began airing during the 2013–14 American television season.
The fifth season premiered on October 3, 2013, followed by the series premiere of The Originals.
On February 13, 2014, The CW renewed the series for a sixth season, as well as The Originals for a second season.
The series follows the life of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a teenage 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. Elena undergoes many hardships and deaths of close family members and loved ones through her high school experience.
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 19th 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 many more supernatural threats such as werewolves, witches, ghosts, Originals and hybrids.
Initially, Kevin Williamson had little interest in developing the series, finding the premise too similar to other vampire tales. However, at the urging of Julie Plec, 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 show’s 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. Now there is a spin off called “The Originals” that goes into depth about the original vampire family from The Vampire Diaries. 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, which through the course of the show, improved greatly. 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.