4 Reasons The Vampire Diaries is Spiraling into Mediocrity

The Vampire Diaries may have started out similarly to Twilight, but the show’s first season was miles better than anything the saga offered, and in my opinion, even superior to True Blood. The pacing was fast, the villain was charismatic and compelling, and the stakes were high with multiple deaths per episode. Showrunners Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec had crafted a tight, coherent narrative that boasted both great characters and an engrossing plot. That great show no longer exists. Now in its fifth season, The Vampire Diaries has become muddled with plot holes and storylines that go nowhere, characters no one cares about, and a mythology that is so convoluted it is impossible to understand. Here are the top four reasons The Vampire Diaries has lost the appeal it once held:

4. Mundane Villains

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Let’s be honest –does anyone like or care about Silas? Or Wes? They aren’t even remotely scary. During Season One, Damon was perfection as the antagonist –he was truly frightening and ruthless (remember when he ripped out Coach Tanner’s throat? Or staked Lexi?), but we caught glimpses of humanity underneath that made his character so interesting and complex. He was snarky and funny and scary, all wrapped into one great character. When Katherine took over in Season Two, she too had all the makings of a great villain. She was often more intelligent than any of our heroes, which created engaging television because they had to work that much harder to defeat her. Klaus and the Originals grew wearisome after a few seasons, but they also started out as strong, interesting villains with a good backstory and rich personalities.

In Season Five, we have no investment in Silas or Wes. I’m relieved they closed the Silas chapter early in the season, because he was truly tiresome to watch. Listening to him recount his ridiculous plan to reunite with his love from 5,000 years ago was both dull and exasperating. Wes may have slightly more interesting goals but he’s a human, and quite easy to defeat if our heroes put in a modicum of effort. Let’s hope Damon soon delivers a sharp neck snap so we can move on to bigger and better things.

3. Character Misuse and Underuse

Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries sports a very strong supporting cast –Tyler, Matt, Bonnie, Jeremy and Caroline are all fantastic characters that add to the show in meaningful ways. Unfortunately, the show has forgotten they exist. Caroline has been relegated to storylines that solely revolve around her love interests –originally with Tyler, now with Klaus. Even her scenes with Stefan that started out as a great pairing of two very different characters have had a subtle romantic undertone in recent episodes, as if hinting of that eventual direction.

The scenes exemplifying the strong, female friendship between Bonnie and Elena and Caroline have become scarce; we rarely see the girls interact without at least one of the men present. Bonnie’s emotional journey is almost nonexistent; she came back to life without her powers, yet this remains unexplored despite the fact that the show could easily tap into a rich emotional chord with it. Tyler flits in and out of the show so often it has lost any narrative value at this point. And Matt, the human who is supposed to ground the show, has been lacking any complex storyline for seasons upon seasons now. Instead of focusing on the onslaught of new characters who come and die within five episodes, the show should go back to writing for their original characters whom we are actually invested in.

2. Convoluted Mythology

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Back when there was just a tomb underneath the Church full of vampires from 1864, life was a lot easier. I’m not opposed to expanding the mythology –the story needs to go somewhere –but the way in which the show has approached this for the last few seasons is torturous. There is the Hunter mythology compiled with the Original mythology and the Other Side, not to mention Silas and Qetsiyah’s story spanning years earlier –it’s exhausting. It is impossible to keep track of and has numerous plot holes that I cannot even begin to start sifting through. Add in the new Doppelganger destiny they’re trying to create and I am quite unimpressed. Keeping the mythology simple and concise would be to the benefit of this show that has quite enough already going on.

1. Loss of Character Development

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One of the things I originally loved about The Vampire Diaries was lack of stasis; the characters were constantly evolving and changing, with villains becoming heroes and heroes committing questionable acts. Damon’s character arc, in particular, was very well done –he started off as a one-note, snarky antagonist who went through some heavy character growth and fell in love with a girl he was not supposed to. He struggled all through season two with his murderous instincts and desire to be a better man, and came out of it an at least somewhat changed person. Seasons three and four were consistent with this –he would have lapses in judgment, but always realize what the right path was.

Fast-forward to Season Five, and the writers have completely undone all that great character development. Damon is back to murdering people without consequence; how is draining Aaron after Elena (aka Katherine) broke up with him any better than snapping Jeremy’s neck when Elena rejected him way back in Season Two? Damon has become a better person that that, and although Enzo was egging him on, he’s not the same character I used to know and love. Stefan fares no better; somehow every other character on the show seems to forget he used to murder thousands of people sans remorse, and presents him with the halo of an angelic character who has done no wrong. These characters have become caricatures of their former selves. Even Elena has lost any semblance of the smart, strong girl we used to know. Vampirism may have been good for Caroline, but has lost Elena her backbone.

The Vampire Diaries  is currently suffering from multiple narrative issues and needs to go back to its roots –character-driven plot with effective twists that maintain the integrity of its characters and keep us interested. It continues to have the potential for great storytelling and I hope the latter half of Season Five is more successful than what we’ve been seeing recently.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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30 Comments

  1. This show just seems boring now in comparison to The Originals. The Originals has a better plots, characters, and overall acting.

    • Boisvert
      0

      The Originals is AMAZING!!!!! TVD has ran its course.

    • It’s just you. First try to compare the first season of Vampire Diaries to the this first season of Originals and then compare the fifth season of Originals to this season of VD if it makes it that far (I don’t think it will.) Plus, Originals did not have the added duty of establishing characters, all they had to do is jump in to whatever they were doing because everyone already knew who the main characters were. So no I don’t think The Originals is better, not in any of the categories you mention. I love how everyone acts like they are such acting critics but I wonder if you can even go perform a monologue without freezing up. I’ve given up on TO, I don’t care about any other the characters or the storyline. I wasn’t really crazy about them when they were on VD.

    • Grace Morton
      0

      I agree…The Originals has taken all that lame teenie bopper drama out and replaced it with mature older actors. I love it! I have to say, I can’t stand Nina. She is an awful actress! She lost any respect I had during the death scene with Jeremy where she turned off her emotions. Also, that horrible scene where she was in labor. I love Elijah, Klaus, and Marcel.

    • The Originals is good in comparison to S5 of TVD, but I agree with Drake – compared to Season 1 of Vampire Diaries, it’s nowhere near as good. I feel like they’ll run out of story kind of quickly. I’m already tired of Klaus’s non-development and continual quest for power. Elijah (and Marcel) is mainly why I watch it.

    • Cant wait for The Originals each week, the hiatus was unbearable!

      Orinals are vampires who embrace being vampires
      TVD are vampires trying to be human

    • Rachael
      1

      It’s funny that Julie Plec runs both shows. TVD is starting to age badly. TO is fresh but I still think they have to find some credible villain or make the three Originals a little less cocky but meh.

    • CristinaBryan
      0

      TO is annoying and boring. The original siblings quarreling every episode is mind numbing. Witches, werewolves, vamps together are tedious. TVD is still fun and funny. I don’t care for New Orleans anymore.

  2. I don’t agree with this article. I thought last episode was great. Another really stellar episode where a lot of things got brought to the table. And now Stefan and Caroline knows that Katherine is in Elenas body.

    Superb episode and quite frankly the episodes as of lately has bern consistently good. This season is definitely the Best season since s3. Also love all the Steroline scenes. Caroline is my favourite character so it was Nice to see these 2 figure out the puzzle on Katherine

    • Leigh Zimmerman
      0

      I actually agree! (Can you tell how surprised I am?) I have not had high hopes for this show recently, but right now I’m really enjoying it.

      Pretty much everything about this episode worked: Katherine’s seduction attempts weren’t exactly subtle but they were shameless and devious – classic Katherine.

      Nadia was actually enjoyable and sympathetic (and, though I wouldn’t have said this last week, I really hope they find a way to save her).

      Matt was smart and useful!! But still a good guy. I’m glad he’s getting some actual screen time these days. (One of the great things about the Originals being split off – there’s more time to focus on the core characters.)

      Damon actually focused on someone besides Elena for a little while!! I love that he has a friend again. I love that the friend is actually a character with substance and calls Damon on his crap, but still obviously cares about him. Hope Enzo stays around for a while, but I’m afraid of what our psycho doctor’s last experiment might have been…

      And I love that the brothers actually interacted! In a way that wasn’t just sniping over/trying to help out Elena! I hope they’ll continue to feature their relationship as the show goes on, ’cause it’s a highlight (and a welcome break from all the romantic drama).

      Finally, Tyler was handled, again, really well this episode. He didn’t either get murder!vengeancy, or just shrug and forgive Caroline’s actions (as I feel most characters on this show would have done) – he apologized for stepping over the line by threatening her, but stayed firm about the fact that she’d done wrong by him, and that wasn’t ever going to be ok. He and Matt really are the most mature, grounded characters on the show.

      • To be fair, I get what you guys are saying and I agree that the last few episodes have been a lot better than what’s been happening for a while -mainly I think because they’ve reverted to Katherine as a villain for the time being and we’re actually invested in her character and she’s a funny and great villain. But once she’s out of Elena’s body (and she will be soon), we’re back to Wes and Travelers, whom I couldn’t care less about. Matt loses all purpose unless he continues to hook up with Nadia, which is not really a very meaty storyline. I guess I just don’t really see a very compelling arc for the rest of the season.

    • mandie odell
      0

      Urgh, God no, I have to disagree. I have no idea what they are doing, I got so damn bored.

      Now, where do I begin. Ah yes, Elena giving herself to Stefan on a silver platter without any regards to their history or concern for Damon and my beloved Stefan doesn’t flinch? Elena knows everything about history like she…. (lived through it) when Stefan knows she barely graduated from high school and only goes to college to party or sleep in her dorm room.. Come on now, Stef, that was just bad writing. What happened to the Stefan that could tell a mile away if it was Katherine or Elena. His amnesia must have been playing up again..

      What happened to Tyler, Matt and Caroline? So after their little conversation about where Matt had been… what, Caroline went home? What did she do, watch TV? Read a good book? Track down where the hell Bonnie is going that requires her to just disappear when the writers don’t have her do anything better? Maybe she were visiting her mother again, or shopping at the local mall or just having sex with Jeremy all day.

      Where did Tyler run off to, did he go for a walk? Maybe went and got a drink for a few hours? Maybe made some new friends? They had a few minutes worth of screen time and nothing happened in between? They all just went home… Alrighty then.

      Stefan and Elena’s shower scene.. good lord, it just felt like a bad porno. The music, a guy watching a girl coming out of the shower, she goes up to him, starts touching him, makes goo goo eyes at him, the music gets louder, oh it’s coming, we’re gonna get it… Elena is acting strange and Stefan, bless his soul does not find one thing strange about this at all.

      Finally the trio scene. All lovey dovey, brotherly love and what’s her face between them, all nice and dandy. But my question is… how the hell did they get out of that house? Weren’t they trapped?

      I love Stefan and Caroline with all my heart, truly do but man, girlfriend doesn’t know her best friend well enough and boyfriend is just so clueless, I actually feel bad for him.

      This season is such a mess. Nothing makes sense and the writers are even more lazy than I though was humanly possible. Just my two cents.

  3. Jordan

    I liked the idea of them making The Vampire Diaries into a TV show, but I was originally pulled away by the soapy aspects of it. Would you say to get the best of the show I should watch Season 1 only? I can’t be bothered reading the books.

    • Seasons 1 and 2 are GREAT. First few episodes of Season 1 are a bit soapy (the pilot in particular is terrible), but the show definitely finds its footing and veers out of that territory fast. Season 3 isn’t bad either, but not as good as the previous ones, so it just depends on if you’re still interested in watching the story. It’s definitely worth watching for at least two seasons though.

  4. Nice list but the show is starting to get back on track, I liked season 3 mostly, season 4 was the worst, the beginning of season 5 was mediocre and now back on track now…it may be better focusing on less characters.

  5. I know everyone hate season 4, but i recently watched it in marathon mode and it made it so much more enjoyable…. I realise now it was actually a good season. Not great but good enough…. I def think view ing the episodes back to back helps a lot…..

    • Bruce Hale
      0

      I’ve been marathoning season 3 on bluray during the brief Hiatus, and I agree that watching all the episodes without huge breaks is far more enjoyable (although, I quite enjoyed season 3 when it air anyways). I’ve got the last 2 episodes and then i’ll be onto season 4.. hopefully I find it more enjoyable than when it aired!

    • Sarai Knudsen
      0

      Yeah, I heard that from someone else and watched it in marathon mode too. Still hated it, even more than the first time. Bummer.

      Glad you’re enjoying it tho ^^

  6. rubengc

    I agree that the show has somewhat lost its intruige. however I sypathise with the writers who have a really hard job creating fresh ideas for a well worn genre; this late in the game.

  7. Liz Watkins

    I’ve enjoyed the last few episodes of this season more and more. I think it’s the return of Katherine. But I agree that the show probably needs to find an ending point in the next season. CW has a history of dragging its series through many pointless seasons before giving viewers a conclusion.

  8. I have heard this sentiment from a lot of fans recently. I am still watching season 4 and I have been disappointed in the sire bond arc and general inability for the characters of the show to accept Elena. The idea that a character can have an “old” self and a “new” self as totally separate identities is shallow and lacking thought. This commentary is stifling and does not leave much room for character growth, which as you say is one of the better parts of the earlier seasons!

  9. I feel like Julie Plec might be focusing more on The Originals, thereby leaving The Vampire Diaries to be less captivating.

  10. MoodCast
    0

    i thought the last 4 episodes were good but before that, the past seasons have been bad.

  11. The first and even second season of Vampire Diaries were good. The only reason these last few episodes have been better than the last two or three seasons is because the focus has returned to the main protagonists and villains that made the show good. I completely agree with your reasons as to why the show has declined. Besides the annoying voice over that the network found necessary to replay before every single episode, the first two seasons developed its characters, both good and bad, in a way that made it an intriguing show. The Originals’ storyline was interesting the first time around, but now just seems like a ploy to have “cross-over” episodes frequently. I do have to say that I am partially excited about Damon’s new thirst for vampire blood, because he still is the show’s most interesting villain.

  12. farishtamw

    From my thoughts to your article. You’ve taken the words right from my mouth!

    Spiraling into Mediocrity is a perfect way to put it.

    Though it got its chance as a result of Twilight’s success, the Vampire Diaries TV show surpassed the movie saga right from the start.

    As a fan of the books (which were written in the EARLY 90’s, YESS, BEFORE Twilight), I was a little disappointed with the casting and decided not to watch the show when it first aired. But a little voice in my head told me to give it a chance. It took about 6 or 7 episodes, but finally something clicked. What really did it? The episode of Damon and Elena’s road trip to Atlanta!

    I fell in love with the show and it quickly showed me that it could stand on its two feet and it became even better than the books on which it was based.

    With each season, it got better and better and episode after episode, I’d be left sitting on the edge of my seat.

    The addition of the Originals was a very nice touch, a treat really!

    However, recently it’s been sailing in much slower waters. I was afraid that this would happen, especially after the departure of the orignals, but even slightly before that.

    I have to applaud you, your 4 reasons are accurate to a T! I completey agree.

    Interestingly enough, the Originals-which I also did not want to watch in its inception-has picked up its pace as the season has progressed; something I wasn’t expecting. I find it a better alternative to many of TVD’s season 5 episodes.

    Alas!

    This was very well done and very well written. Thanks for your insight.

  13. Having never seen The Originals, I cannot agree or disagree with the other comments. What I can say is that this type downward spiral is inevitable, especially with a show like Vampire a Diaries. One of the things I love about a Vampire Diaries is how much the writers are able to accomplish in one episode, but after a while I think even they get caught in their own maze of plot twists. I, still watching though, for now.

    Great observations.

  14. Jessica Koroll

    “The Vampire Diaries has become muddled with plot holes and storylines that go nowhere, characters no one cares about, and a mythology that is so convoluted it is impossible to understand.”

    You’ve succeeded in accurately describing pretty much every series that the CW produces in a single sentence ahaha. I enjoyed reading this a lot. I haven’t watched the show in forever but I remember being surprisingly into it back when it first started. I was disappointed to see it go so far downhill.

  15. libsrocks
    1

    I think it’s unfair to compare The Originals and The Vampire Diaries no matter what season they both are in

    -The Originals is actually a Supernatural Family and Political Drama with much more mature actors/characters and storyline
    -The Vampire Diaries is a Supernatiral Teenage Drama made for teenagers and completely revolves around concepts mostly for teenagers. The characters in Vampire Diaries are young in both age and experience

    -The Originals is still in Season 1
    -The Vampire Diaries is in Season 5

    -The writers of vampire diaries have learnt from their mistakes and so they have not repeated those mistakes in The Originals like there are very less unimportant characters in The Originals as compared to The Vampire Diaries

    TVD has now started losing it’s spark but i think it did very well till the time it remained and now it’s time for TO to prove how long can it survive with it’s theme and characters

  16. Thank you for writing this. All that you have said in here are the reasons I quit watching VD. It began too tiring and boring to keep up with new villains, new plots, dopplegangers, etc..

  17. I think all the plot changes & villain characters are normal because what else could they possibly be fighting for survival for? Their first dilemma was Damon killing people & feeding on Vicki. Then it was Katherine coming back to town. Then klaus & the original. As each season comes to an end they have to fight bigger & badder villains. Now, in the last season ever, they’re fighting the actual devil. What can be worse & harder to kill than the devil? I think choosing the devil as their last villain ever was smart because it’s over now. There’s no one more evil than him.

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