3:45 pm EST, March 11, 2017

Dear ‘The Vampire Diaries’: A love letter to Mystic Falls

Dear The Vampire Diaries, today will be different.

Today, we won’t get to wonder who Elena will choose, in the end. We won’t have to hope that Bonnie gets her magic back. We won’t live in fear that Damon will relapse on his redemption tour, or that Stefan will go too far to vanquish his guilt because, well… We won’t get to anticipate, speculate, hope, fear, or any of that. It’s done. The story has been told. The final page of the diary has been filled.

For eight years, Mystic Falls has been the home that we kept coming back to, week after week, season after season. We spent our nights in the Mystic Grill and at the Lockwood mansion alongside the characters of The Vampire Diaries. We both dreaded and awaited the endless Founder’s events like it was our own parents who were dragging us to them. We knew something awful was bound to happen, but we got to see our friends, so it was worth it.

the vampire diaries, stelena, stefan and elena

When The Vampire Diaries began, it was “the story of two vampire brothers obsessed with the same girl,” and at its core, The Vampire Diaries has always been a show about love. There have been so many beautiful moments, kisses, dances, and words shared between every couple on The Vampire Diaries. The love triangles and shipping have been such a fun and essential part of the show and the fandom. Stelena or Delena? Bamon or Bonenzo? Klaroline or Steroline? We constantly fought, and will continue to fight, for the merits of our favorite couple, fully believing they share a “true love” like nobody else’s.

While the romance was key, The Vampire Diaries became so much more than just a love triangle. Things changed when we took that first, magical step back into 1864. From that point on, we obsessed over the manipulative genius of Katherine Pierce. We craved flashbacks and information about the Salvatore brother bond, which evolved over centuries. We stood in awe of the Bennett witches, and yearned to see more of what their power was capable of. We were fascinated by any interaction between Elena and Katherine, with their differences so profound despite their identical appearance.

Over eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries these characters filled our thoughts, our hearts, and some of our homes, until they became as real to us as our family and friends. We felt their pain, mourned for their losses, rooted for their happiness and shared in their joy.

the vampire diaries, salvatore brothers, stefan and damon

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The fact that most of these characters are (or at least were) vampires was just the icing on the cake. On top of going through the already impossible trials of high school, first loves, and the always-too-high expectations of family, they had to deal with uncontrollable bloodlust, heightened emotions and a revolving door of psychopathic and sadistic enemies!

Through watching the characters grow to understand their vampirism, and seeing them both succeed and fail, The Vampire Diaries provided a safe and removed lens through which we could look at things like mortality, addiction, justice, toxic relationships, and epic love and friendship. Being a vampire came with a lot more than just super speed (which they didn’t use nearly enough) and magical charisma, after all.

The people of Mystic Falls dealt with far more than their share of loss and heartbreak. We’ve said so many goodbyes throughout the course of The Vampire Diaries that we couldn’t even begin to count the ones we’ve lost. Some of the deaths we were devastated over and some we were actually cheering for. On The Vampire Diaries, both types were equally epic. But now, our characters have found peace. This is the final bittersweet farewell that The Vampire Diaries will force us to say. So, let’s raise one last glass of bourbon for some final toasts.

the vampire diaries, damon salvatore, alaric saltzman

To Matt, the token human who became not-so-token. You watched everyone around you become the thing you feared and hated. The thing that took away the only family member who hadn’t abandoned you. You wrestled with your complicated feelings, and at times we wanted to kill you (and couldn’t believe nobody had) for not complying with the every will of our vampires. But, your journey always brought you back to the people you love. You turned your anger for what the vampires had done to your town into a desire, and a drive to protect it, and that’s pretty awesome.

To Alaric, the teacher of many subjects. You had the forgiveness and compassion in your heart to turn your greatest enemy into one of your best friends, and that’s something not many people would ever be able to say. You parented everyone when you had no obligation to do so, and taught them how to protect themselves in a world that nobody had thought to prepare them for. You had the audacity to keep loving in spite of how many loves you’d lost, and in the end, your response to brokenness was not to shrivel and hide. Your response was to spread your love and wisdom more widely, so that your children might know a better future.

To Enzo, the magician. I don’t know how you did it, but you made us love you. After seasons of wanting you to go far, far, away, you had us weeping at your death and praying for your safe return. You saw in our BonBon what we’ve been screaming at the top of our lungs for everyone else to see for eight years. As your final act, you got to save her. Thanks for that.

the vampire diaries, caroline forbes, elena gilbert, bonnie bennett

To Caroline, the mother. You went from being the “backup” to being “everyone’s first choice.” You heard their calls of annoying, clingy, stupid, and neurotic, and you answered by becoming the light of their damn lives. Right from the start, you always tried so hard, but your humor, strength, instinct, passion and love were always effortless. You were everybody’s conscience and backbone, and you showed them, and us, what a vampire could be! Your marriage was ended too soon, but you deserve all the love in the world, and you’ll get it, because you’re Caroline Forbes. If there had to be only one vampire left standing, we’re so glad it’s you.

To Bonnie, the fighter. “Nobody knows how to fight harder and longer than you,” are some of the truest words ever spoken on The Vampire Diaries. You gave so much of yourself to everyone, whether they deserved it or not. You loved so loudly and gave without reservation, even when it wasn’t reciprocated. Thank you for keeping that spirit alive, to the very end. Now go be happy, dammit!

To Damon, the “evil brother.” We never believed your act for a second. From the very beginning of The Vampire Diaries, you were nothing but a bleeding heart. We’re so glad that you finally figured that out, too. Thanks for protecting everyone, even when your methods weren’t exactly the most desirable. You weren’t perfect, but you loved and guarded your small circle fiercely. You spent so much of your life waiting for the person you loved. You got her. You let her make you the man that you always were, deep down. You lost your brother, but you get to be happy for the both of you. It’s all that Stefan wanted.

the vampire diaries, delena dance, elena gilbert, damon salvatore

To Elena, the glue. You took chance after chance on Stefan, when you easily could have walked away, and the story began. Then, you did the same for Damon, and the story ended. You saved not one, but two brothers with your love and compassion. You saw the good in both of them when nobody else could. You’re the reason for it all, dear, and we’re so glad you came back to us. Thank you for having the courage to keep loving and forgiving, despite everything you lost, and for keeping The Vampire Diaries family together, even from your supernatural coma. That’s power if we’ve ever seen it!

To Stefan, the hero. You lived up to that “hero hair” hairstyle that you’ve been sporting since the pilot. Not just in The Vampire Diaries series finale, but in every episode, and every moment. Elena saved you, but you saved her too, and together you guys assembled the band of misfits that became The Vampire Diaries family. You guided them through the crazy supernatural world and, in the end, you saved them from it. You couldn’t get past your guilt in life, but we’ll forever be grateful that you found peace in your death. You lived for over 150 years, knew multiple epic loves, found so many friends, and helped countless people. You died so your brother could do the same, and we thank you for giving him that chance.

To Katherine, for surviving. To Klaus, for painting. To Lexi, for being the bestest best friend ever. To Jeremy, for coming back. To Kai, for making us seriously question our judgement. To Jenna, for braving the scariest obstacle in all of The Vampire Diaries: raising a teenaged Jeremy. To Vicki. To Tyler. To Liz. To Grams. To everyone else who touched this show in any way, thank you for making the world of The Vampire Diaries all of the wonderful things that it was, and will always be.

the vampire diaries, steroline, stefan salvatore, caroline forbes

Watching you all defeat even your greatest enemies and conquer your pain, no matter how many centuries deep it was buried, helped me and countless other fans overcome so much of our own pain, loss, and heartbreak. You’ve been more than a source of entertainment. You’ve been an anchor and a refuge, and that legacy will live on.

For every tear, every smirk, every memory, every song added to every playlist, and even every moment we spent tearing out our hair in frustration, we thank you and we love you for all of it. Gone are the days of new loves and kisses, flashbacks, blood bags, hastily concocted plans and bigger and badder opponents, but we’ll always have those moments that we spent with The Vampire Diaries.

The Fray’s, “Never Say Never” repeated, when it played in both the pilot and the series finale, “Don’t let me go.” We will not. We’ll hold onto the memories and, above all, we will always return to Mystic Falls. We will always come back to you. We promise.


Related: The Vampire Diaries series finale recap: Hell hath no fury

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