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The Vampire Diaries is an American supernatural teen 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 concluded on March 10, 2017, having aired 171 episodes over eight seasons.
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. It was the most-watched series on the network before being supplanted by Arrow. The show has received numerous award nominations, winning four People’s Choice Award and many Teen Choice Awards.
In April 2015, lead actress Nina Dobrev, who played Elena Gilbert, confirmed that she would be leaving the show after its sixth season. Dobrev returned to record a voiceover for the seventh-season finale and returned as a guest star in the series finale.
In March 2016, The CW renewed the series for an eighth season, but in July of that year announced that the eighth season, consisting of 16 episodes, would be the show’s last. The final season began airing on October 21, 2016, and ended March 10, 2017.
The series is set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town charged with supernatural history. It follows the life of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a teenage girl who has just lost both parents in a car accident, as she falls in love with a 162-year-old vampire named Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley).
Their relationship becomes increasingly complicated as Stefan’s mysterious older brother Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) returns, with a plan to bring back their past love Katherine Pierce (also played by Dobrev), a vampire who looks exactly like Elena.
Although Damon initially harbors a grudge against his brother for forcing him to become a vampire, he later reconciles with Stefan and falls in love with Elena, creating a love triangle among the three. Both brothers attempt to protect Elena as they face various villains and threats to their town, including Katherine. The brothers’ history and the town’s mythology are revealed through flashbacks as the series goes on.
Additional storylines revolve around the other inhabitants of the town, most notably Elena’s younger brother Jeremy Gilbert (Steven R. McQueen) and aunt Jenna Sommers (Sara Canning), her best friends Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham) and Caroline Forbes (Candice King), their mutual friends Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig) and Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino), Matt’s older sister Vicki Donovan (Kayla Ewell), and their history teacher, vampire hunter Alaric Saltzman (Matthew Davis).
The town’s politics are orchestrated by descendants of the original founding families, all comprising a “Founders’ Council.” They guard the town mainly from vampires and other supernatural threats such as werewolves, witches, hybrids, and ghosts.