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Ranking ‘The Vampire Diaries’ Characters

'The Vampire Diaries' had eight seasons of characters we all either loved or loved to hate. Today we're ranking 25 of the most iconic characters from the original show.
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Throughout eight seasons, we fell in love with the characters from The Vampire Diaries. Or we came to hate them. From dying too soon to living way too long, these characters went through a lot.

In order to make this ranking, they had to be either a recurring or main character for at least two seasons. There are two exceptions, but only because they’re either fan favorites or played a significant role in their season.

I also won’t include The Originals characters because that deserves a list of its own. So, without further ado, here’s my ranking of 25 The Vampire Diaries characters. Here’s your one and only spoiler warning for all three series.

WORST: Lily Salvatore

Annie Wersching as Lily Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I honestly knew right away who would win Worst Character of the Entire Franchise. Lily Salvatore literally left her family behind because she couldn’t handle the bloodlust being around them. So, after a blood binge, she finds another family that she can handle.

During her season seven arc, her only goal is to get her lover back, regardless of what it could do to her real or adoptive families. When she finally realizes what he did, she kills herself, thinking it would kill him too. She could have chosen so many other options, but we don’t have to deal with her anymore.

24. Kai Parker

Chris Wood as Kai Parker in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Now don’t get me wrong, Kai was one of the funniest characters in the franchise, but he was also a psychopath. And based on morals alone, I have to put him at the bottom. His character arc isn’t impressive because he starts out the same as when he died in Legacies. The only difference was he was a vampire.

There was so much potential for him to grow, but I kind of liked that he was just evil through and through. It was different than the other antagonists from the show, who had reasons for being killers. He just did it for fun. And to be petty to his family.

23. Vicki Donovan

Kayla Ewell as Vicki Donovan in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Okay, so Vicki isn’t a completely horrible person. But she was highly annoying and hurt so many people in the process. I will say, her death was necessary for the series and sets Jeremy up to grow, eventually turning into the hunter he is in later seasons.

From the get-go, I couldn’t stand how she used Jeremy and then tossed him aside when Tyler came around. Her only redeeming factor was that she loved her brother so much that she didn’t put up a fight when Hell came for her, letting Matt go back to his body from the Other Side.

22. Sybil

Nathalie Kelley as Sybil in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

In my opinion, season eight was the worst, but Sybil was an interesting character to me. She started off innocent and naïve, but her time as a Siren turned her cruel and sadistic. My only qualm is that she was turned into a Siren in the first place.

Yes, she wanted to live, but she never technically agreed to become a Siren in the first place. And once she embraced her new life, she seemed to enjoy it a little too much. I think, similarly to Klaus and Damon, had she had someone love her, she might have been a little higher on the list.

21. Carol Lockwood

Susan Walters as Carol Lockwood in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Again, a character who wasn’t horrible, just not interesting. Carol wasn’t a vampire, werewolf, or some other supernatural creature. She just happened to be Tyler’s mom and his only family left when Klaus finally came around.

I didn’t hate her in the first season, but that changed instantly when she shot Caroline with vervain. I couldn’t stand what she did just to “protect” her son. To be fair, she did get better after coming to terms with Tyler being a werewolf. So, when she did die, I did cry a little bit.

20. Liv Parker

Penelope Mitchell as Liv Parker in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I might be the only one, but I hated Liv from the moment I saw her. It should have been her that merged with Kai, not Luke. I understand that she was only doing what her father sent her to do, but she could have been upfront with Bonnie instead of being so sneaky.

And when she got together with Tyler, both of their character arcs went downhill. She was only redeemed in my eyes when she let Tyler kill her at Alaric and Jo’s wedding in order to save him. But then again, if they had both died, I wouldn’t have been too sad about it.

19. John Gilbert

David Anders as John Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I know none of us could stand John when he first popped up. He was horrible to his family and friends, specifically the vampire ones, but he had some excellent moments. You know, aside from threatening Damon and putting all vampires and werewolves at risk.

He did get into many fans’ good graces when he sacrificed himself for Elena during Klaus’s ritual. By saving her, we got more of the show… and more of Klaus. With this sacrifice we also got dark Alaric, after he used the Gilbert ring too many times.

18. Tyler Lockwood

Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Don’t even get me started on this character. Tyler treated everyone so horribly from the beginning. He treats Vicki badly because she’s from “the wrong side of the tracks,” Jeremy because he’s jealous, and Caroline because he’s so focused on revenge.

He also hooked up with Matt’s mom, which is horrible on several other levels. And when he’s called out, he acts like it’s no big deal and tries to make others feel bad about it. He was the king of gaslighting. I was perfectly fine when he died, to be completely honest.

17. Enzo St. John

Michael Malarkey as Enzo St. John in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I’m probably not the only one who Enzo grew on. To his credit, he was only bad in the beginning because he was angry Damon left him and he had the “Augustine Vampire” serum in his veins. And again, he only wanted to get the person he loved back in the next season.

But, once he started falling in love with Bonnie, he completely changed. He was friendlier, more willing to adapt, and a lot less aggressive. I still can’t forgive Stefan for killing him, but at least Bonnie can still see him, as he’s a spirit.

16. Katherine Pierce

Nina Dobrev as Katherine Pierce or Katerina Petrova in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I’ve already compiled a list of her most heartless moments in The Vampire Diaries, but most of those were because she was just trying to survive. She came from a family that disowned her and gave away her daughter. And then she turned herself to escape being sacrificed.

Turning led to her being chased for centuries by Klaus. Without any of those things happening, we wouldn’t have gotten the iconic character we either love or love to hate. She’s so much more than she was in the books, and that’s for the best.

15. Valerie Tulle

Elizabeth Blackmore as Valerie Tulle in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I honestly put Valerie in the middle because she wasn’t a horrible character, but she did get in the way during season seven. We could have gotten Caroline and Stefan together a season sooner, but her relationship with Stefan was one of the most interesting of the show.

Despite their loving the same person, she helped Caroline carry the twins to term. She also does everything she can to get rid of Julian and save vampires from Rayna, including going on the run with Stefan for years. She even steps away from him to give Caroline a real chance.

14. Meredith Fell

Torrey DeVitto as Meredith Fell in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Meredith is in the middle of the pack because I liked her as a character, but not as a love interest for Alaric. She set up Elena’s best season by giving her vampire blood and making sure she was okay when she first woke up.

When it comes to her relationship with Alaric, it felt more like a relationship out of convenience than of love. So when he attacked her because of the “Darkness” of the Gilbert ring, and she realized she wasn’t safe as a doctor in a town of vampires, it was the best time for her to leave the show.

13. Matt Donovan

Zach Roerig as Matt Donovan in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I don’t get why everyone hates Matt. Yes, he was annoying at first, but around season five, he got less so. And in season seven, he really took things into his own hands and did all he could to keep the humans in Mystic Falls safe.

Do people not like him because he was the token human in the series? Either way, he was one of the most important people to Elena and got her to turn her humanity switch back on. And, I don’t think he ever got influenced by the Gilbert ring like some people (I’m looking at you, Alaric).

12. Elena Gilbert

Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

She wasn’t a bad person, but she messed up so much just by being her annoying self. If she had just gone along with the plans that were already in motion, so many events throughout the series could have been avoided.

However, one of her best feats was falling for Damon and giving him a reason to be good. She also helped out a few times, but it could have been more if she’d stopped sacrificing herself every chance she got. Like, seriously, be selfish for once.

11. Damon Salvatore

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries
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Damon might be one of my favorite characters, but he was still a bad person for quite some time. He was introduced as a horrible person who only wanted two things: Katherine and revenge. And every single time something went bad, he lashed out.

However, once he came back from the prison world, he seemed to be doing better. Elena was the best thing that could have happened to him, and it really shows in season eight. His memories of Elena were one of the only things tethering him to himself.

10. Jeremy Gilbert

Steven R. McQueen as Jeremy Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries
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Jeremy started out as the stereotypical high school stoner, but after Vicki’s death, he really showed significant growth. And once he was marked as one of the supernatural Hunters, he really became a great character. I loved his arc so much.

He had some bad moments. He cheated on Bonnie with a ghost, which is something I never thought I’d say. But overall, he did a lot more good than bad. And in the series finale, he was shown helping supernatural kids at the Salvatore School.

9. Elijah Mikaelson

Daniel Gillies as Elijah Mikaelson in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I loved Elijah from the moment he walked onto my screen. He was both terrifying and captivating. And, I’ll be completely honest, he’s got some darkness in him that makes him such a great character. Like Stefan, he had the potential to be the worst character in the franchise.

If he hadn’t had his family with him for so many years, I’m pretty sure he would have been the antagonist of many seasons. Thankfully, because of Klaus and Rebekah joining him in Mystic Falls, we get some of the best storylines in the series.

8. Klaus Mikaelson

Joseph Morgan as Klaus Mikaelson in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

I know some people will get mad at me for having him so high, but he was only a bad person because of what he lived through before becoming a vampire. And he did terrible things to save himself and his family countless times, but not once did he put his family second.

His father was abusive even before they were vampires, and it only got worse once they were immortal. He was chased down for centuries before finally being rid of him and being allowed to breathe for a moment. His character arc in The Originals might have also skewed my view of him.

7. Liz Forbes

Marguerite MacIntyre as Sheriff Liz Forbes in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Sheriff Liz Forbes left us way too soon. And I will never forgive Caroline for burning her mother’s letter. If you’ve ever lost a parent or parent figure, you know how important those last letters and conversations are. And it doesn’t help that Caroline also caused her mother’s premature death in a way.

Liz went from a vampire hater to someone who they could always go to for help. With help from the vampires in town, her daughter, and Elena, she really changed how the town ran and how the vampire community was kept at bay. She really saved Mystic Falls many times.

6. Alaric Saltzman

Matthew Davis as Alaric Saltzman in The Vampire Diaries
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Not including how he is in Legacies, Alaric is a great character. He was a good father figure to Elena and Jeremy, a good friend to Damon (at least once Isobel is gone), and a good hunter. From his first appearance, fans have wanted to see more of him.

The only downside to his character in the original series was his craving for violence because of the Gilbert ring. But that was also one of his most exciting storylines. I just feel bad for all the women he dated, because they usually ended up dead or severely injured.

5. Rebekah Mikaelson

Claire Holt as Rebekah Mikaelson in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Don’t get me wrong, Rebekah did some horrible things, but she was only trying to live again. She was daggered for centuries, only allowed to come out to live when Klaus deemed it so. So, when she was literally stabbed in the back, it’s only natural she lashed out.

Not counting her arc in The Originals, she showed tremendous growth as a person. Everything she did was to survive and find a way to be human again. She even compromised with Damon and Elena on the Cure to allow them to get the life she wanted first.

4. Stefan Salvatore

Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

We’ve finally gotten to the Edward Cullen of The Vampire Diaries. He may be a bit boring at first, but he’s not a horrible character. He also managed to rank at number four because of his sacrifice in the series finale. He really came full circle, saving the town that brought so much drama to his life.

From being the Ripper of Monterey to being the savior of Mystic Falls, he really had one of the best character arcs. And he was definitely a better person than his brother, but we can thank Lexi for that. I don’t want to think how he would have turned out had he not met her or Elena.

3. Bonnie Bennett

Kat Graham as Bonnie Bennett in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Bonnie deserved better. And I blame the creators of the show for that. They treated Kat Graham badly behind the scenes, and it reflected in her character going through so many traumatic events. First, she lost her grandmother helping people they didn’t even want to help.

And then she lost her magic multiple times, her boyfriend died and then cheated on her with a ghost, and then she lost Enzo, the love of her life. She went through so much and still kept sacrificing everything for her friends. She deserves a happy life from now on.

2. Jenna Sommers

Sara Canning as Jenna Sommers in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

We lost Jenna way too soon and for the wrong reasons. She was literally just trying to raise her niece and nephew as well as she could. She was thrown into the supernatural world without consent or any knowledge of it beforehand, and it ended up killing her.

When she finally learned about vampires and werewolves, she took it in stride and did her best to help her family and friends. She was also the best relationship for Alaric. I am so happy that she managed to find peace and not get stuck on the Other Side despite being a vampire when she died.

BEST: Caroline Forbes

Candice King as Caroline Forbes in The Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Studios | Warner Bros. Television | Alloy Entertainment | Outerbanks Entertainment

Caroline started out as one of my least favorite characters, probably even more so than Vicki, in season one. Once Katherine turned her, I liked how she was spurred to grow up and take responsibility for herself. She really turned into the best character of the series.

She also helped others see Klaus as more than just a bad guy. She showed that when you really got to know him, there’s more to him. She also carried Alaric’s kids and raised them, despite the danger it posed her during pregnancy.