The Vampire Diaries series finale delivered on its promises, providing a heartbreaking, nostalgic and satisfying final act.
The return of our leading lady? Check. The death of an untouchable? Tragically, check. Returning characters and callbacks to the pilot? Double check! A happy ending? Arguably, check. The Vampire Diaries series finale had all the ingredients for an “epic” conclusion. Did the recipe work? Read our recap to see what we think.
‘The Vampire Diaries’ series finale recap
The Vampire Diaries and Nina Dobrev made us wait two seasons to see our star again, so thankfully, they didn’t make us wait more than a few minutes in the series finale. It was unbelievably great to see both Elena and Katherine in this episode, but the return of Elena was so necessary. Her character is the center of the show and nothing ever really felt complete without her. When she opened her eyes, it was like a breath of relief.
Unfortunately, we weren’t seeing her under the best circumstances. Bonnie’s heart had stopped beating, and she was getting ready to pass on. Thankfully, Enzo had no intention of leaving his girl’s side until she was ready to live without him, so he sent her on back to be the hero that The Vampire Diaries needed.
The brilliantly bad Katherine Pierce obviously did not gain one iota of perspective during her time in hell, so she came back to Mystic Falls to enact her final revenge. Vicki Donovan was tasked with igniting the entire town in hellfire. Now, that wouldn’t have been a problem, since Sheriff Matt actually had a pretty effective evacuation plan, but Katherine made sure her favorite brothers were trapped in the flames.
Not only did we get to see Elena and Katherine again, but we got to see Katherine impersonating Elena, one last time! Of course she took the opportunity to mess with the brothers by pretending that Elena had woken up. There couldn’t be a more Katherine thing to do. Even though it was devastating to see the brothers realize what had happened, it was such a perfect scene between these people that share so much history.
It was also perfect that Elena’s, and ultimately, the Salvatore’s downfall was essentially the tomb spell that was so wrapped up in Katherine’s story. By trapping Elena in the school, with the brothers being so tethered to her, Katherine had devised the perfect plan. And it’s pretty tough to beat the perfect plan when you have approximately 15 minutes to figure out how to do so.
Bonnie did her best, but the only idea she could muster came with a heavy price. She knew exactly what that price was when she made that phone call, as did the recipient. Katherine had to be staked in the midst of the hellfire, which meant someone had to be there to do it. Someone had to pay with their life.
The Salvatore brothers needed a big moment in The Vampire Diaries series finale, and they got it when they had to decide who would pay that price. In the end, it came down to the trio. Elena, unable to choose to sacrifice herself, Damon, unwilling to let her, and Stefan, unyielding in his desires to make up for his wrongdoings and protect those he loves most.
My favorite thing about the Salvatore moment was that they both made the same sacrifice. Damon, in compelling Stefan (one of the most OMG worthy moments of the episode), ensured that he would be the one to go down with the ship. Stefan, in curing Damon, did the same thing. He just did a slightly better job of it. Both brothers knew, without a doubt, that the other was willing to give their life so that he could live his.
But, like I said, Stefan was the better martyr in The Vampire Diaries series finale. Going into the finale, Stefan seemed like one of the more obvious choices for a casualty. He was human, guilt-ridden, and relatively weak. However, that did not, even a tiny bit, reduce the heart obliterating impact that his death had.
During Stefan’s conversation with Elena, it took me a while to figure out what was happening. That entire scene was such a roller coaster, not knowing whether to be terrified, relieved, or to just remain confused. When that final gut punch landed, though, it was mighty. Stefan Salvatore, the vampire who started it all, one of the brothers who basically came out of the womb wearing protagonist armor, is dead.
The death definitely elicited the emotional response that you need from a series finale, but I still don’t know how I feel about Stefan’s death. I so wish he had been able to push past his guilt, in life, and not feel so strongly that he deserved to die.
What I did love about his sacrifice, however, was that he was giving that gift to his brother (and Elena) because he truly thought that Damon deserved it, and not because he felt like he still owed Damon something. I would have preferred if the brothers had worked things out and then lived a long, amazingly happy life as BFFs, but the end of the Salvatore story did feel satisfying in The Vampire Diaries series finale. Especially since they get to live it up as BFFs in the afterlife! Also, Stefan meeting Lexi basically made up for everything.
Poor Caroline got one day of being married to Stefan before he was ripped away from her. She actually didn’t even really have a role in the finale. Caroline has been pretty fulfilled for a while now though, so it makes sense that most of the drama was left to others who had more to wrap up. After being tricked into leaving Stefan, her job was to say goodbye.
Her “I’ll love you forever,” line was exceptionally heartbreaking, because that’s essentially what she was saying about all of these characters. Not just Stefan. She’s the only vampire left! Everyone else will apparently find peace and hang out in a parallel Mystic Falls, and she’ll still be alive! Just her. Nobody else. It’s kind of crazy to think about.
Not to close the book on Steroline too quickly, but did we just get a Klaroline endgame? Because it kind of feels like we did. Klaroline fan or not, this is good news because it’s pretty solid hope that we’ll be seeing Caro on The Originals. Besides that, the thought of new love and new experiences is hope for Caroline’s future, where otherwise it could look pretty depressing. Losing everyone you care about would definitely be a dark side of immortality.
For now though, she’s helping Alaric run the Salvatore Boarding School. Even though the cameo was insanely short, I was thrilled to see that Jeremy was helping out. Not only did it give fans one last chance to see him, but it provided a deeper understanding of what this school could be. A haven for all kinds of supernatural beings to learn and grow, so they don’t go through the many trials that Salvatore and co. have had to overcome.
Bonnie actually got a happy ending! Well, sort of. She never got Enzo back, but she got her magic, and her best friend, and she gets to live whatever life she chooses. Admittedly, after the epic Bennett witch moment (another amazing OMG moment), I was hoping her future would be a little more…magical, but anything that makes Bonnie happy is good enough for me.
After years of waiting, Damon finally got everything he wanted (minus a very important little brother, of course). He lived a long, happy, human life with Elena, presumably surrounded by his friends, and in his death, he found peace and redemption.
Honestly, although I’m happy knowing that they’re happy, I needed so much more from the Delena scenes in The Vampire Diaries series finale. I’m pretty confident they didn’t actually speak to each other in the episode. We’ve been waiting two years to see these two together. The least they could do is say that they missed each other a little bit, or something. Actually, I wanted better Elena reunions with everyone!
While so much of The Vampire Diaries series finale was exactly what it needed to be, it was definitely lacking in some areas. If there’s one thing that this finale desperately needed, it was more time.
One hour was not even close to enough for this finale. The Vampire Diaries has always had a knack for cramming a lot of story into each episode, but it just wasn’t possible to accomplish everything this episode did from start to finish, while also successfully wrapping up the series. It felt rushed.
There were a few flaws that were, at best, awfully convenient twists and, at worst, pretty huge plot holes, which would’ve benefited from more time. Katherine can perform the tomb spell? People just go visit Elena when they die? Bonnie somehow now can, and is not afraid to, break the unbreakable spell linking her life to Elena’s?
Yes, if we get creative, we can work our way around these issues. Katherine either commanded one of her subjects to perform the spell or gained some psychic powers when she took Cade’s place. Kai’s spell sent Elena’s spirit to the same psychic plane where these characters went upon their death. Bonnie was so empowered by vanquishing the hellfire that she had a renewed sense of confidence, or she was able to contact one of the other Bennett witches to help her. However, if there had been more time to wrap up some of these storylines, we might not have to get quite so creative.
That being said, in a series finale, I will always take emotion over perfection, and The Vampire Diaries series finale delivered on that. The episode was a beautiful send off for this world and the characters that we’ve loved for eight years. Thanks for the memories, vampires. We already know you’ll rest in peace.