Tonight The Vampire Diaries reaches a major milestone — 100 episodes. While I’ve only recapped the past two seasons for Vulture, I’ve seen every episode. So to celebrate, I went back over five and a half seasons of stellar storytelling, shocking plot twists, and incredible bone structure to bring you the ten biggest milestones our beloved show has experienced. I know in our debate we tease TVD a lot (Matt sometimes speaks with a Russian accent, you know?), and we’d all like to forget the moonstone debacle of 2011, but what The Vampire Diaries has done is remarkable. It continues to be smart, crazy compelling, at times funny, epically romantic … and has engendered a community that refuses not to be heard. So congratulations to the show! And congratulations to every member of TVD family out there — Stelena, Delena … we’re all still here.
10. The Katherine Reveal (Season 1, Episode 22)
I’m just gonna cut to the chase and start with the best damn part of this show, our Lady K. Every time Katherine shows up it feels like a reveal, but you know specifically the one I mean. Right after “Elena” kissed Damon, she got into the house and sliced off Uncle John’s fingers. Except it wasn’t Elena after all, it was Katherine, back to shake up Mystic Falls with her shenanigans. She was the villain back then — simpler times.
9. Stefan Teaches Caroline How to Be a Vampire (Season 2, Episode 2)
One of the most unexpected moments of the series was when Caroline became a vampire — but even more unexpected was the friendship with Stefan that would blossom from her new-fanged state. I’ll never forget Stefan wiping all the blood of the still insecure, neurotic, control-freak Caroline’s face and teaching her to breathe in deeply and control her bloodlust. Steroline forever!
8. Damon Says “I Love You” (Season 2, Episode 8)
After one of the 10 million times Elena was kidnapped, Damon brought her vervain necklace back to her, along with a confession: He loves her, but he can’t be selfish with her. Stefan deserves her, he doesn’t. He then compels her to forget. Cue a super-awesome scene three years later when Elena remembers the incident after becoming a vampire. (Also, Ian Somerhalder has that “one tear down the cheek” trick pretty much patented by now, doesn’t he?)
7. Damon and Alaric Say Good-bye — Again (Season 4, Episode 2)
As if Alaric’s funeral weren’t sad enough, last season, Damon went to Alaric’s grave to complain about being left behind to take care of the kids (sob) and then the camera panned to Alaric’s longing, sad, WAY TOO DEAD face. Hearts across the world broke. It gave us the feeling that even now, though we haven’t seen Alaric all season, he’s around, watching over our gang. “I miss you, too, buddy.”
6. Stefan and Elena Break Up (Season 2, Episode 6)
This has happened a few times (and I loved the scene from last season on the porch — beautiful), but this is the one where Stefan cried. This scene broke my heart (and Paul Wesley’s acting stole it). Katherine tricked Jenna into stabbing herself because Elena and Stefan were sneaking around, so Elena breaks it off with her epic love to try and save her family. They cried, they kissed, I weeped. It’s one of my all-time favorite TVD scenes. Heartbreaking.
5. Elena Burns Her House Down (Season 4, Episode 15)
In what is probably my favorite episode of the entire series, Elena, wrestling with her grief over Jeremy’s death, pours alcohol over everything in her house. Damon hopes that by asking her (using the sire bond) to turn off her humanity, that she’ll calm down … but she burns the place anyway, because there’s nothing there for her anymore. Nina Dobrev’s acting was phenomenal in this episode. I’m still bitter they didn’t give her an Emmy!
4. Damon and Elena’s Motel Kiss (Season 3, Episode 19)
I got one word for this one: HOT. There had been such insane crazy sexual tension building between these two for so long. After a day of running from Originals and tracking down ghosts, Damon and Elena have a quiet moment in bed, where she confronts him about why he hides his kind nature from other people. She becomes overwhelmed by the moment, and then pretty soon … overwhelmed by his kiss. And the best part? She RUNS to him! For a girl who swore by Stelena, this moment had me thinking twice. And who can forget the epic “Never Let Me Go” playing in the background?
3. Katherine Takes the Cure (Season 4, Episode 23)
Of all the Katherine-related shockers (Uncle Mason, anyone?), this one was the craziest. We thought Elena gave Stefan the cure, but when Katherine has her stiletto on Elena’s neck and is ready to kill her, Elena smashes the vial inside Katherine’s jaw, curing her. Stefan gave it back to Elena and she used it at the best possible moment. The writers really know what they’re doing, because for all her wicked ways, Katherine is probably the most human of all the supernatural creatures on the show. And it has been WONDERFUL watching her struggle with her humanity this season. Please don’t kill her tonight, writers? [Starts prayer vigil for Katherine.]
2. Elena and Stefan Get Frisky (Season 1, Episode 10)
I love this moment in season one, where Elena tells Stefan that she loves him and they, ahem, consummate their relationship. Watching Paul Wesley make out is one of my favorite things to do, but beyond that, this moment was powerful because it was the first time Stefan let Elena see his vampire face — weird veins and all. “Don’t hide from me,” she tells him, and then he doesn’t. Beautiful.
1. Elena Drowns (Season 3, Episode 22)
Looking back, I don’t know how I missed the signs, but when Elena and Matt went off Wickery Bridge, I was completely surprised. The sequence was truly a landmark moment in the series, and one I wasn’t sure they were ever going to explore — Elena dies and comes back a vampire. It was the start of Elena’s — and the show’s — second era.
What are your top The Vampire Diaries moments? Comment below!
Until tonight, I’ll be here: @RebeccaASerle