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  • Mikayla Alexander

The Vampire Diaries and its Sustained Popularity

By: Mikayla Alexander

“The Vampire Diaries” (TVD) is a multi-series novel written by L.J. Smith and was first released in 1991. The show adaptation was written by Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, with the pilot airing in 2009. It took eighteen years for the book to be considered for a show, picked up and aired. 

“Vampire Diaries” by L.J. Smith “The Awakening” Collection, photo by: Mikayla Alexander 

The “Pilot” episode garnered the highest viewership in TVD history with 4 million viewers. It never reached that height again but averaged 2-3 million viewers for seasons 2 and 3, until a low of 1 million viewers to end season 4. Since then, episodes did not reach a viewership of over 1 million, but a loyal following carried the show until the eighth season. The book’s plot does not start off nearly as captivating as the show, with the book focusing heavily on supernatural themes with a dash of young adult romance. 

The show, however, writes off many original supernatural plot lines and replaces them with ample steamy and romantic ones. These changes veer far off from the book but seem to work in favor of the show and the much-adored triangle love story. Aside from that, the vampire craze had been elevated before TVD by other book adaptations such as the “Twilight” movie release in 2008.  

“The Vampire Diaries” has managed to stay relevant today, as the concept of a supernatural vampire-focused reality still attracts many people. In fact, Netflix received much backlash from 2020-2022 for removing the show in different countries because of licensing issues.


Much of its loyalty today is expressed through mediums such as TikTok, Quora, Reddit, and the numerous vampire conventions. TVD (and Twilight) were the height of vampire popularity in media and entertainment, and years later, nothing came close to competition. 

TVD first shifts from the original plot’s mystical focus, by not including Elena’s earlier vampire transformation and a second death that turns her into an angel/ghost. In the second book, Elena dies because of a plan set by Katherine and is turned into a vampire. Elena dies again at the end of the third book, in a sacrifice that succeeds in taking Katherine out with her. In the fourth book, she assists the Salvatore brothers and friends in defeating Klaus, from the other side, as a spirit with powers.  

The show’s adaptation does not have Elena die and turn into a vampire until the end of season 3, in which Katherine is still alive but Klaus is dead. Elena instead dies at the revenge of Klaus’s sister before turning into a vampire and Katherine stays alive until season 5. The show’s plot difference allows Katherine, the ex-lover of the brothers, more opportunity to interfere with Elena and her relationship with the brothers, out of jealousy and resentment. This is also time spent writing the tension between Elena and the brothers as she continues to fluctuate between her feelings for Damon and Stefan.


Another plot line change that elongates the obsession of this love triangle occurs in the second book. At this time, Elena already came to the realization that she is in love with Damon too. The show swiftly moved around some key plot drama to allow the perfect circumstances to draw out Elena’s romantic indecisiveness, while adding plenty of mutual attraction for Damon and Elena.  

In the book, Damon is mostly pursuing and harassing Elena as she tries not to give much thought to it. In the show, Elena fights less with her attraction and kisses Damon twice. The writers also create more one-on-one scenes with these characters, that are heightened by the chemistry of their actors. This differs from the book, as Elena and Damon never kiss although Damon actively tries to persuade her into choosing him over Stefan.  

Instead, the show utilizes the attractiveness and the chemistry between Damon and Elena’s actors to give viewers more romantic satisfaction. The book tends to stay true to its’ “young adult” aspect in this way, not having as frequent nor as detailed romantic/sex scenes between Elena and the brothers, or any other characters.  

The amount of time the show spends hyping up passion and romance is the amount of time the book spends diving into supernatural lore, as well as character development such as expressed in Elena’s diary. In fact, Deadline posted an article that states, “The Vampire Diaries remains The CW’s highest-rated series in target demographics, including adults 18-34 and women 18-34.”  

"Vampire Diaries" TV adaptation poster, credit to: Rotten Tomatoes

The book alone does not have nearly as much romantic and sexual allure as the show. The show also plays with the existence of many characters. The book states that Elena only has a little sister named Margaret who is in grade school, not a teenage brother named Jeremy. Her caretaker is still her aunt (named Judith instead of Jenna) but her aunt is married, not single. The show instead utilizes an “of-age” sibling and a single character to make way for romantic plot writing.  

This is shown by Jeremy first being obsessed with an upperclassman in season 1, dating a new girl Anna in season 2, as well as developing an attraction to Elena’s best friend Bonnie. In season 2, they do focus on Jeremy and Anna’s relationship, but eventually it ends and his relationship with Bonnie is stretched out until season 5.  

Also, much of Aunt Jenna’s plot within the show centers on her struggling to raise the kids and trying to find love. They indulge her character with Logan Fell, who is a villain within the plot, and Alaric Saltzman, who is the kids’ history teacher and a vampire hunter. There are numerous changes from the book that Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson made to make up for views motivated by romance and drama. Most of the book’s original content would not translate as well into a show that would garner such loyalty and popularity.  

Despite not discovering the book’s full scope, the key point remained vampirism. This alone was a stable, mysterious and invigorating basis to get viewers interested. At the time of the show’s release, people were already enamored with vampire plots such as the Twilight book series and movie adaptations.  

Other shows and movies such as “Being Human” and a recent adaptation of “Interview with a Vampire” are stand out attractions over 13 years of supernatural/vampire stories. However, the perfect formula for romance and drama with supernatural themes, seem to be loved endlessly, especially in the manner done so with “The Vampire Diaries”.  

Today, there is a physical place for fans to commune in the name of their love for this show, rather than on social media such as TikTok or Reddit. It is not limited to just rewatching the show, but rather entire vampire conventions are held where fans can meet, see, and speak with the actors of The Vampire Diaries.  

One of the vampire fan conventions is being held in New Jersey from June 21 to June 23, with the special guest being the Salvatore brothers themselves. Along with Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder, Daniel Gillies will be there too. Daniel Gillies plays Elijah Mikaelson in the show, who is a well-loved “villain” by fans of TVD. He also stars as a lead in the TVD spin-off, “The Originals”.  

Other vampire-based events are hosted throughout 2024-2025 with alternating actors from TVD and “The Originals” and “Legacies” spinoffs. These events occur in numerous locations such as Paris, New Orleans, Chicago, and Orlando.  

“The Vampire Diaries” ran for eight seasons until 2017, by which fans had some heartbreaking goodbyes to these on-screen characters. The show certainly saw some ups and downs, especially with viewership and fan loyalty across the seasons. Despite that, they maintained a loyal average of 1 million viewers from seasons 6 to 8. It has been 7 years since they last aired, but loyalty is expressed through the shows demand to be aired on streaming services.  

Also, vampire fan conventions are not a thing of the past, with various cast members of the TVD world being a selling point for vampire fans. Despite that, fans and watchers have taken to social media to form their communities to express opinions, hot takes, and their shared love for the show. This love is also expressed on newer media platforms such as TikTok.  

The show may be done, and it differs greatly from the novels, but it's dangerous and romantic plots are perfectly executed. The show made great use of the main love triangle and other intimate plots while maintaining a vampire theme. Its success continues to ring true within the never-ending loyalty and love of fans all over the world. 



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