‘The Vampire Diaries’: A Unique Element to the Series Sets it Apart From Every Other Vampire Drama

Buffy may have paved the way in the ’90s, but the 2000s were when vampires really got their chance to shine … Or glitter, in some cases. Vampires were all the rage for about a decade, thanks to books like Twilight and TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood. But while much of the vampire media being offered at the time started to feel stale after a while, one TV show took an interesting route to keep fans interested and invested. The Vampire Diaries used one unique plot device to set it apart from its other vampiric competitors. 

Paul Wesley, Nina Dubrev and Ian Somerhalder smiling
Paul Wesley, Nina Dubrev and Ian Somerhalder | Toby Canham/Getty Images

 The Vampire Diaries had a long TV life

It’s never a sure thing that you’re new favorite television shows will live to see another season each year they’re up for renewal, but The Vampire Diaries managed to stay on the air for eight years. It aired on The CW from 2009-2017, showing 171 episodes. Its pilot episode attracted the largest audience for any CW show since 2006, when the network began.

The Vampire Diaries centers around the fictional town of Mystic Falls, VA. The town, which is known for being a supernatural hot spot, acts as a centerpiece for the entire series. Teenager Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) finds herself falling in love with a 162-year-old vampire named Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley). Things get tricky when Stefan’s older brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder), shows up and falls in love with Elena, as well. Throughout the series, the love triangle often finds themselves battling supernatural villains threatening the town.

What sets The Vampire Diaries apart from its competitors?

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Full transparency. The 10th year Anniversary of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES was too close to 9/11 and it hurt my heart a bit to celebrate in such a deep and thoughtful time. So here goes… 10 years… wow. The memories, the friendship, the fans, exploring all ends of the earth and the work. Oh the amazing luxury of the work. Who could have ever thought, that incredibly stressful week of waiting for an answer, multiple auditions and ultimately the phone call from my manager and agent (after biting off several fingernails) that I had indeed gotten this role of Damon Salvatore in this little @thecw Vampire show Called the Vampire Diaries would change the course of my life forever. The laughs, the cries, the colds days and warm Georgia summer nights. It seems like thousands of them. Not far from… I could never pen or type the words to express the enormity of the gratitude I have for @Kevinwilliamson, @Julieplec @carolinedries amongst so many others and all the powers that be at @WarnerBrosTV, The CW and CBS the cast, crew and post production team and marketing gurus. BUT most importantly: YOU the fans. Thank YOU you amazing people. You’re connection to and love of this show fueled by passion and insight gave way to many many years of experiences, knowledge, skill sets and access to the joy of humanity I will carry with me for a lifetime. I’ve gotten the pleasure of meeting so many of you around the world and hearing your thoughts on social channels. What a joy and thank you for your energy. Thank you for this amazing opportunity. I will strive continuously to keep creating great characters, great content, great companies and necessary beneficial non-profit projects with my beloved @isfofficial to positively impact our planet and all it’s creatures. I will not always win, not all will be hits but I thank you in advance for your trust, support and the precious time out of your life that you take to watch me on screen, buy one of my products or help my foundation @isfofficial make real change in the world. With immense gratitude and appreciation, Ian and Damon

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While every show is different, it’s hard not to compare shows that are so similar to one another — like vampire shows. Throughout the show’s time on the air, The Vampire Diaries was mostly compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ran from 1997-2003. Buffy was beloved by many and paved the way for every vampire show that followed. 

ScreenRant compiled a list of things that The Vampire Diaries and Buffy did better than each other, naming five things that each out-performed the other in. They decided that the best thing The Vampire Diaries utilized to set it apart from Buffy was the use of doppelgängers. Doppelgängers were introduced early in the show, when Katherine Pierce, Elena’s doppelgänger, shows up and wreaks havoc.  

Buffy introduced doppelgängers in its third season, but they were never a major plot point. The Vampire Diaries, on the other hand, used doppelgängers throughout the entire series. They were central villains throughout the story and fans loved it when the show’s protagonists had to fight them.

Other vampire dramas haven’t included doppelgängers as well as The Vampire Diaries

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She's been plotting for centuries. #TVD

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Vampire shows, of course, existed before the ’90s — hello, The Munsters — but they practically exploded following the popularity of Buffy and Twilight. True Blood was another long-running vampire show on the air at the same time as The Vampire Diaries and was extremely popular on HBO. Again, they didn’t utilize doppelgängers at all, instead choosing to focus on the lives of the vampires in town and how they interact with humans.

Angel, a spinoff of Buffy, aired in the early 2000s. Another fan favorite vampire show, Angel focused on the main character’s struggle with trying to do good deeds while battling his own inner demonic tendencies. This vampire show also didn’t use doppelgängers. 

At first glance, it’s easy to assume that all of these vampire shows you see commercials for are all generally the same, it’s clear that the show’s writers and creators put a lot of effort into making them unique from one another. The Vampire Diaries has been a genre favorite since it first aired, and we’re sure it will continue to be re-watched over the years.