Best of the Decade: 'The Vampire Diaries' delivered a perfect love triangle in its third season (2023)

There's a reason we've seen so many love triangles on television. The classic storytelling device is a surefire way to drum up drama in any situation. It taps into a fandom's desire to root for something, to feel competitive about something. If shipping was born out of fans wanting a particular love story, why not give them two and make them choose? Well, because it can get complicated. For as often as we see love triangles on television series, they don't always work.

Love triangles are a high-wire act. The two relationships need to feel different enough, though both must feel valid. You have to give each couple their moments without making the central person's preference obvious. And most of all, it has to feel right when that central person finally chooses someone. Audiences should be able to look back at the story and understand that decision. (They might not like it, but it should make sense.)

So yeah, love triangles are fun. Will Joey choose Dawson or Pacey? Will Rory choose Jess or Dean? It's a way to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. But when handled correctly, it should be about more than suspense. It should be about great storytelling. And when The Vampire Diaries premiered its third season in 2011, it delivered on all the promises of a love triangle.

After two years of establishing the love story of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), the teenager as familiar with loss as she was with homework, and Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), the undead man who brought her back to life, it was time for Stefan to step out of the picture for a bit. (He left town with Klaus as part of a deal to save his brother's life.) Enter Damon (Ian Somerhalder), Stefan's older brother. The show had already established Damon's undeniable connection with his brother's girl, and through the experience of trying to track down Stefan, Elena and Damon grew closer. But again, high-wire act. Elena, the selfless human who put those she loved before herself, couldn't suddenly fall head over heels for the selfish, impulsive vampire who once snapped her brother's neck. But what she could do was slowly start to see other sides to Damon, all the while trying to get Stefan back.

The groundwork was laid as early as episode 2, when Damon told Elena, "When I drag my brother from the edge and deliver him back to you, I want you to remember the things you felt while he was gone." The key words being "while he was gone." Stefan's absence was crucial to building the love triangle: If she felt things for Damon while Stefan was gone, what would it mean when he returned? By pairing the story of Damon's redemption with that of Stefan's downfall as Klaus (Joseph Morgan) forced him to drink human blood and turn off his humanity, Elena's relationship with the brothers was flipped on its head. She found herself once again paired with the "good Salvatore brother" — only this time, it was Damon.

And once that bond with Damon was set, Stefan started to make his way back into the picture.

If we're talking about the balance needed in a love triangle, TVD's third season could walk a tightrope. Just as Damon started to win Elena over, Stefan proved that she shouldn't give up on him. Damon made Elena jealous by flirting with another girl in one scene, Stefan caught her when she fell in the next. We're not talking about epic, sweeping romantic moments. We're talking about a look here, a touch of the knee there. Because the show was calculated and incredibly subtle in both building the relationship of Damon and Elena and rebuilding the relationship of Stefan and Elena. You have to be when your season contains 22 episodes. Damon and Elena didn't share a kiss until episode 11 of the season. Stefan and Elena, the love story upon which the show had been built in its first two years, did not kiss until the season finale. Let's say that one more time: The show managed to get through 21 episodes without its core couple so much as kissing, and yet Stefan and Elena's love never felt like it was gone. It coursed through the show with the same electricity it always had, as the thing that propelled each of them forward.

It should be stated that the show was able to survive on an entire season of almost-moments in large part due to the chemistry between the actors. Not every show could get away with a look between two people holding as much weight as Stefan and Elena in a closet in Chicago or Damon and Elena in his bathroom after the bonfire. But thanks to that chemistry, the show didn't need multiple make-outs and big speeches to make the love triangle feel real.

And by never having Elena waver in her love for Stefan, despite her feelings for Damon, she remained likable as the heroine of the story. At no point did she forget Stefan in favor of her new relationship with Damon. She struggled with both, all season long. As she told Stefan in episode 18, "I never stopped loving you." And with that love as the foundation of the triangle, she remained relatable in her emotional struggles, which allowed viewers to become invested in both possible outcomes and guaranteed that no matter which brother she chose, fans would follow that love story.

Somehow, The Vampire Diaries managed to build a new love story without destroying the one that launched its series. And furthermore, it found a way to make Damon feel like a viable candidate, despite Elena's unfaltering love of Stefan, which meant viewers went into the season 3 finale genuinely not knowing which brother Elena would choose. After all, her options were very different. As Rose (Lauren Cohan) told Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) in episode 19, "[Stefan's] love is pure; he'll always be good for her. Damon is either the best thing for her or the worst." So the question became: Is Damon currently the best thing for her? Or the worst?

It all built to the second half of the season finale, when Elena had to make a decision because she believed both brothers were hours away from dying. She had to choose which one got the goodbye. And ultimately, she chose Stefan. Because, as she told Damon, "No matter what I feel for you, I never unfell for him," a line that acknowledged her feelings for both brothers and allowed viewers to understand her decision. (And just to make sure the Delena shippers didn't lose hope, the writers threw in a flashback that revealed that Damon and Elena actually met first.)

In its third season, TVD told a beautifully balanced, perfectly paced story about a human girl torn between two very different vampire brothers. And in the end, she made her choice. As she'd later claim, it was the best choice she ever made, and for viewers, it was one of the best love triangles TV had ever seen.

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What happens in season 3 episode 21 of vampire diaries? ›

Klaus acts on his intentions to leave town with Elena, but finds resistance from a surprising new enemy. Damon and Stefan have a surprisingly candid conversation about the future. Klaus acts on his intentions to leave town with Elena, but finds resistance from a surprising new enemy.

In which TV series is Elena caught in a love triangle with the Salvatores? ›

The Vampire Diaries is a hit American television series based on the novel series by L.J. Smith. The show follows Elena Gilbert's life as she's caught in a love triangle between two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore.

What song was in season 3 episode 19 of vampire diaries? ›

Never Let Me Go by Florence and The Machine is the song playing when Damon and Elena share their first real kiss together in Season 3 episode 19 "Heart of Darkness".

What happened to Elena and Damon in season 3? ›

Season 3 - Elena Falls For Damon (But Chooses Stefan)

Their developing relationship felt like a betrayal to Stefan, and Elena kept trying to repress her feelings for his brother. They eventually come out in full, right around the time Stefan starts to revert back to his true self.

Why did Elena choose Stefan at the end of season 3? ›

And ultimately, she chose Stefan. Because, as she told Damon, "No matter what I feel for you, I never unfell for him," a line that acknowledged her feelings for both brothers and allowed viewers to understand her decision.

What series does Elena get pregnant? ›

Black Hole Sun (The Vampire Diaries)

What episode Elena sleeps with Damon? ›

'The Vampire Diaries': Damon and Elena (Season 4, Episode 7) It was the moment Delena fans had been waiting for: Damon and Elena finally got it on. And, after a few fake-outs, it was the real deal.

Who did Elena cheat on? ›

Yes, Elena was unfaithful and disrespectful towards Stefan. Elena kissed Damon at the end of Season 2, when her and Stefan were STILL TOGETHER. No matter what that meant, it's cheating.

What is the hottest kiss in TVD? ›

The 13 most epic kisses on 'The Vampire Diaries,' ranked by hotness
  • 2/13. Damon and Rose devour each other (Episode 2.09) ...
  • 4/13. Bonnie and Jeremy's candlelit canoodling (Episode 5.08) ...
  • 5/13. Rebekah and Matt's tree tryst (Episode 5.01) ...
  • 6/13. Damon and Elena's fireside flirtation (Episode 4.23) ...
  • 7/13. ...
  • 9/13. ...
  • 10/13. ...
  • 11/13.
Aug 16, 2016

Who is Elena's true love? ›

Who did Elena lose her virginity to in TVD? ›

She lost it to Matt, it was mentioned in the show.

What song did Elena and Damon kiss? ›

When Damon and Elena kissed at a motel while "Never Let Me Go" by Florence + The Machine played. "The entire use of this song is great, but when the chorus hits and Damon and Elena share a forbidden kiss, it's epic.

What did Elena say to Damon in season 3? ›

She calls Damon and tells him she's going back, not just for Stefan but Caroline and Tyler. Damon asks if it was just between him and Stefan, who would get the goodbye. Elena tells him: "I love him Damon. He came into my life at a time when I needed someone and I fell for him instantly.

What episode is the saddest episode in vampire Diaries? ›

Top 10 Saddest Vampire Diaries Moments
  1. 1 Elena's Slumber Goodbyes. 6x22. ...
  2. 2 When Stefan and Elena Broke Up, for Real. 2x06. ...
  3. 3 Aunt Jenna's Funeral. 2x21. ...
  4. 4 When Caroline's Dad Died. 3x13. ...
  5. 5 When Alaric Died. 3x20. ...
  6. 6 When Elena Died. 3x22. ...
  7. 7 When Damon Went to Alaric's Grave. 4x02. ...
  8. 8 When Liz Forbes Died. 6x14 (Stay)

Who does Elena have a baby with? ›

Somtime during season six of The Vampire Diaries, Elena give birth to her and Jacob's first and only child, Bonnie Rebekah Fogerty. They named their daughter in honor of their two friends, Bonnie Bennett and Rebekah Mikaelson.

Does Elena divorce Damon? ›

Though a few years later, Elena and Damon divorced; with Elena getting custody of their five children. Elena is a member of the Petrova Family, and a member of the Gilbert Family. She is also a member of the Salvatore Family via her former marriage and her children.

Does Elena marry Damon? ›

Damon remains entirely devoted to Elena throughout the remaining two seasons as Elena sleeps peacefully. In the season 8 finale, she is revealed to be happily married to Damon.

Why did Elena cheat on Stefan? ›

Elena Did To Stefan: She Drank Damon's Blood

To help her, Damon offers her to drink his blood and Elena accepts even though she and Stefan are still together at the time. Feeding on another vampire is very intimate, so it's a bit like Elena cheated on Stefan.

What did Stefan whisper to Elena in the last episode? ›

Stefan then visits Elena in their high school in the state between life and death. He tells her that he is human now and says that Damon wanted to sacrifice everything for Elena and the town.

Did Elena love Damon or Stefan more? ›

Elena confesses she still loves Stefan but no longer is in love with him and is in love with Damon. Stefan and Caroline realize that her feelings may have something to do with the fact that she's sired to Damon. Damon struggles to come to terms with this and begins to doubt her feelings for him.

How many kids do Damon and Elena have? ›

And yes, the show later confirmed that Damon and Elena have multiple children - Jenna, Sarah Lillian and a son, Grayson.

What season do Damon and Elena have kids? ›

'Legacies' Season 5: Stefanie Salvatore — Damon & Elena's Daughter | TVLine.

Does Elena have a miscarriage? ›

Later, by herself in her bathroom at home, Elena had a miscarriage in secret. This experience substantially changed the way Elena perceived herself and her eating disorder, pushing her to realize that she needed to change her behavior if she were to ever make up for the miscarriage of the daughter she never knew.

What episode does Damon cheat on Elena? ›

No.. but in Season 7 Episode 13 he did cheat on her… he pushes the Almost naked woman out of his house as Bonnie pulls into his driveway and hits thee alarm on her car alerting Damon of her presence… so while no they did NOT break up its quite evident he did in fact cheat on her and did so without being Spelled/ ...

Did Damon sleep with anyone after Elena? ›

Krystal was a vampire who was turned by Julian and was part of his army that resided in Mystic Falls. She has a one night stand with Damon Salvatore after he tries to get over Elena Gilbert's supposed "death."

Does Elena really love Damon or is it the sire bond? ›

Elena and Damon sleep together after she admits to her feelings. It's discovered that because Elena had feelings for Damon when she was human and it was his blood which turned her, a sire bond has been created between them.

Who Elena loved the most? ›

Elena Falls for Damon Without Her Memories

Despite no longer remembering her past with Damon, Elena still feels a strong connection to him and eventually falls for him again. This scene is incredibly powerful because it shows that even without her memories, Elena still has a deep love for Damon.

Who put Elena to sleep? ›

In the Season 6 finale, antagonist Kai Parker (Chris Wood) placed a sleeping spell on Elena that linked her to her best friend Bonnie (Kat Graham). Therefore, as long as Bonnie was alive, Elena remained in a deep sleep.

Who loves Elena the most? ›

Stefan Salvatore

Stefan loved Elena more than anyone else and was entirely devoted to her. They both wanted to pursue a human life, whereas Damon enjoyed being a vampire. Elena reunited with Damon in the series finale, but she would potentially have been a lot happier if she had chosen to be with Stefan instead.

Who is the hottest girl Vampire Diaries? ›

Katherine Pierce (Nina Dobrev), The Vampire Diaries

Katherine Pierce, the diabolical doppelgänger of Elena Gilbert, is the hottest vampire of all time, both onscreen and off.

What is the best romantic episode on Vampire Diaries? ›

Most romantic moment: The motel kiss (Season 3, Episode 19). Season 3 was prime time for Delena. The two bond while Stefan is with Klaus, as they work together to track Stefan down and retrieve him, inadvertently falling deeper in love with one another along the way.

Which vampire did hope kiss? ›

Roman tells her how he was desiccated for decades after angering the wrong people. Later Roman meets Hope in the library and they discuss the latest update in the search for Hayley, which leads the two to share their first kiss.

Who does Bonnie marry in vampire Diaries? ›

Enzo moves Bonnie up in a cabin, and over the years the two began to grow close. Two years later, after their romantic feelings had build up, the two started a romantic relationship and fell in love.

Who is Stefan Salvatore's wife? ›

Stefan Salvatore
Significant othersCaroline Forbes (spouse) Elena Gilbert (ex-girlfriend/Sister-in-law) Klaus Mikaelson (best friend) Katherine Pierce (ex-girlfriend) Rebekah Mikaelson (ex girlfriend) Valerie Tulle (ex-girlfriend)
14 more rows

Does Elena have kids? ›

Who took Stefan's virginity? ›

Sure, you might have assumed that Stefan lost his virginity to Katherine, but nope, it was Valerie, a newly introduced heretic, who took his V-card. The two meet at a fair and have instant chemistry.

Why can't Elena have babies? ›

The Vampire Diaries had established that a vampire can't get pregnant, yet in Season 7, Caroline Forbes gives births to twins. In The Vampire Diaries, one of the prime reasons Elena Gilbert never enjoys being a vampire is the fact that her transformation has rendered her sterile.

How did Elena not age? ›

As Stefan said without the cure in his system he would age rapidly, Elena on the other hand only a few years to age age she had only spent a few as a vampire she would become the same age as Matt for example so therefore didn't need it in her blood to age 1 year at a time, Damon however did, hence how they lived a ...

When did Elena knew she was in love with Damon? ›

According to Elena's own account of things, she knew she had feelings for Damon in season 1, episode 19, "Miss Mystic Falls" when Damon stepped in to act as Elena's escort after Stefan failed to show.

What is the longest kiss in a movie Elena undone? ›

In her new film, Conn wanted to capture the power and magic behind a monumental first kiss, and ended up shooting a 3:24 long kissing scene that breaks the record for longest kiss in cinema history, originally set back in 1941 by — naturally — a heterosexual couple.

Why does Damon bite Elena? ›

In the meantime, Elena finds Damon wandering and tries to help him but he bites her thinking that she is Katherine. He stops in time before he kills her and Elena takes him back to the Salvatore house.

Why does Damon dump Elena? ›

The episode ends with Elena and Damon fighting over their relationship and how much one depends on another. They decide to break up because their love makes them something else of what they really are but they end up in bed together because they cannot fight what they feel for each other.

What did Damon say to Elena when he died? ›

Damon: I don't have a choice, baby. You are, by far, the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my 173 years on this Earth. I get to die knowing I was loved not just by anyone, but you, Elena Gilbert. It's the epitome of a fulfilled life.

Why did Damon cry when he killed Rose? ›

Both Rose and Lexi, as ghosts helped both the Salvatore brothers, respectively. Rose's death causes Damon to cry for the first time showing her true meaning to him.

What was the saddest death in Vampire Diaries? ›

1 Stefan's Sacrifice Was Tragic

Even though fans expected one of the Salvatore brothers to die in the series finale of The Vampire Diaries, Stefan's sacrifice still hurt. He had always been the bigger person between himself and Damon, but his choice to give his life for his brother's happy ending was heartbreaking.

What is the least fav episode of TVD? ›

Worst: Dead Man On Campus (7.9)

You'll probably notice that a lot of the lower-ranked episodes come either right at the start of the series or after the fourth season. This season five episode encapsulates some of the problems the show had.

What happened to Klaus in season 3 episode 21? ›

That's when Bonnie worked her witchy juju and did the unthinkable: She stopped Klaus' heart… and killed him! Seriously, that's it. He's dead.

What happens in episode 21 of vampire Diaries? ›

Jenna tries to kill Greta but Klaus intervenes and succeeds in killing her. Bonnie leaves with Damon to go to Klaus, trapping Jeremy and Alaric in the cave to keep them safe. Before they go, Bonnie also casts a spell on John to make sure that Elena will not come back as a vampire.

What happened to Elena in season 3 episode 22? ›

Rebekah, enraged and desolate, decides to kill Alaric by killing Elena and causes them to drive off a bridge. Alaric dies in Damon's arms after Elena drowns, but appears to Jeremy as a ghost to say goodbye.

What happens in vampire Diaries season 3 episode 22? ›

On the third season finale of The Vampire Diaries... - Elijah returned to make a deal with everyone: if they helped him get the stake from Alaric, and gave him Klaus' coffin, he and his family would scatter to the ends of the earth, make it impossible for Alaric to find them and not awaken Klaus until Elena was dead.

Why is Klaus not in season 6? ›

Klaus Died To Protect His Family And Redeem Himself

Because he decided to absorb the Hollow, Klaus had no recourse but to end his own life at the end of The Originals.

What happened to Klaus season 3 finale? ›

Klaus returns from the dead, and the guardians attack.

At Luther's request, Klaus returns only to be killed by Reginald again, who proceeds to ring the bell in the lobby that summons the hotel's guardians, knowing they'll attack his children.

What happened to Klaus in season 3 episode 22 The Originals? ›

The Originals season 3 finale saw Klaus Mikaelson do the unthinkable: He put his fear of being alone aside in order to sacrifice himself for his siblings. No, he's not dead. But he is in excruciating pain thanks to Papa Tunde's blade, which Marcel buried in his chest.

Who is the real mother of Elena Gilbert? ›

Isobel Flemming was the biological mother of Elena. She was turned into a vampire by Damon Salvatore by her insistence. She became cold and calculating, but wished for her daughter to live a normal life.

Does Jeremy become a vampire? ›

Jeremy tries to become a vampire by overdosing while having Anna's blood in his system, but he fails. He was later given John's ring, which protects him from a death caused by anything supernatural. In season two, Jeremy falls in love with Bonnie Bennett and they start a relationship.

Is Alaric Elena's Father? ›

Alaric is Elena's step-father and second legal guardian after Jenna. Alaric drank Elena's blood to become a vampire. Elena once killed Alaric, though she did so only to ensure he would return to life while wearing the Gilbert ring.

Does Elena cheat on Stefan in season 3? ›

Was Elena faithful to Stefan | Fandom. Elena said she was faithful to Stefan the whole time they were together, but she kissed Damon in the hospital in season 3, while Stefan was gone.

Does Klaus find out Elena is alive? ›

Klaus brings Stefan back to Mystic Falls to find out what he is hiding. A senior prank night takes a deadly turn when Klaus finds out that Elena is still alive. Klaus threatens Elena by feeding Tyler his blood and kills him. He tells Bonnie that if she does not find a way to create hybrids, Tyler dies.

What happens in season 3 episode 18 of vampire diaries? ›

Episode Info

Damon and Stefan enlist Elena, Caroline and Matt to help with their new plan to destroy Klaus; Klaus threatens someone close to Bonnie, forcing her to work on a spell for him; Klaus and Rebekah find a way make Finn cooperate.

What happens in season 3 episode 13 of vampire diaries? ›

Alaric and Elena receive disturbing news from Sheriff Forbes about a recent murder; Damon asks an old acquaintance for help with an elaborate plan; Caroline is unable to stop a tragedy from occurring.

What happens in season 3 episode 17 of vampire diaries? ›

Damon and Sage plot a scheme to read the mind of Rebekah and Sage finds that a white oak wood may kill the originals. Damon discovers that the original Wickery Bridge was made of this wood and he tells Sage. Meanwhile Alaric's alter ego stabs Meredith trying to kill her.


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