'Vampire Diaries' Finale Week
The Vampire Diaries Pilot

The Vampire Diaries Pilot Revisited: Damon's Crazy Powers, the Birth of 'Steroline' and 15 Other Gems

After eight dramatic seasons, The Vampire Diaries will smolder its final smolder this Friday (The CW, 9/8c). But to truly appreciate how far Mystic Falls’ finest have come, we need to go back to the very beginning.

Kicking off TVLine’s week-long countdown to the TVD series finale, we’re revisiting the episode that started it all — which, I’ll admit, I haven’t watched in years — in all its 2009 glory. (For those of you who still have Blackberry-related nightmares, consider this a trigger warning.)

Sure, parts of the pilot now feel like deluded fan fiction (Matt’s in love with Elena? Bonnie thinks Stefan is hot? And Damon can do what with fog?), but the truth is, it remains a beautiful introduction to some unforgettable characters with whom we’ve chosen to spend the past eight years of our lives.

Browse our gallery of the best pilot moments — you can click here for direct access — then drop a comment below: Do you remember how you felt when you first watched the pilot? And which moments would you add to our list?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Gina says:

    So Ian Somerhalder is actually a vampire, correct? He doesn’t seem to have aged.
    I’ve watched from the beginning and I’m sad to see it go, but it’s time.

  2. Christian says:

    The Vampire Diaries finale airs on Buffy’s 20th anniversary! You guys better cover frickin Buffy the way you do Gilmore Girls! Buffy was the best WB drama, not Gilmore Girls!

    • Elle says:

      You’re so right about Buffy, it was defintely the best drama on the WB/upn.

      • Rob says:

        Actually, we’re all right. Buffy was awesome AND Gilmore Girls was awesome. Very different shows, obviously, but I loved and miss them both!

  3. Kepler says:

    Awww I’m so glad yall are making a big deal about the finale coming up. This show hasn’t always been five star work but it ran the gambit with my emotions and I’m forever grateful about it.

  4. AnnieM says:

    Actually, why *did* they abandon the ability for them to turn into a raven, etc? Or have I forgotten something?

  5. Jane says:

    Enjoyed all these moments except for sc references. Why can’t I like this pairing?! Why?! It’d make tvd so much more enjoyable for me, but I shiver every time these two kiss or whatever and just CAN’T digest them.
    But now I understand why the wedding had to be around Stefan’s character, I completely forgot it’s supposed to be his story.
    And first three seasons are definitely my favourite! Best chemistry on this show – Defan, Klefan, Klaroline, Katherine with almost every character and Bonnie and Elena’s friendship – do they have a nickname? I don’t know.

    • Jason says:

      Not sure why you can’t like Steroline. I suppose it’s your own particular cross to bear. They’ve always had great chemistry (because Candice can have chemistry with anyone, as much as anything), and their growing friendship was always an essential part of the show for me. Perhaps you have certain ingrained, subconscious notions about what the show should be or who characters should be with. Many fans of what the show was at conception, couldn’t move beyond it. That core love triangle was Vampire Diaries’ driving force in the early going, so saying the show could mature past it, caused some consternation. Also, Caroline is pretty much universally beloved, so anyone’s particular desires for her, cause visceral reaction when the writers choose something contrary. The pro Klaus contingent have always been particularly vociferous. (I liked them but, in loving Caroline, never wished that particular nightmare on her). Stefan and Caroline worked for me, for the particular reason that it was unexpected. The way in which the writers allowed their relationship to evolve at a glacial pace, amidst the storm of insanity surrounding them, and over a span of many years, is unheard of in the age of instant tv gratification. It was a particularly unusual methodology for this show. I found the idea of two best friends, always a rock for each other, slowly realizing how much they loved each other, incredibly romantic. It certainly wasn’t the heart rending, grandly emotional approach that was the show’s bread and butter, which made it doubly appealing. It felt more grown-up. Once they got together the writers couldn’t help but heap on the covoluted obstacles, as is their way, but I still root for them. Given that this is the Vampire Diaries though, I’m sure they’ll manage to find a way to blow it all up in the end.

      • Jason I love your explanation!!! I feel exactly the same about Steroline. TV has gotten so much about instant love and forgotten how relationships normally works. Thanks for your comment.

        • Gift says:

          I m glad u said TV christelle stiemmie because it’s movie it’s all fantasy, it isn’t actually suppose to happen in real life. it can be whatever storyline u want it to be as long as its interesting. (I’m not saying there aren’t movies that isn’t about real life events) I’m a fan of the instant love like u say it, the constant love, meant to be kind of love. which I thought Stefan had with Elena. Maybe Caroline worked for others but not everyone. if they wanted to pair SC they should have done properly. we all love the show but prefer different characters nd there is no way Steroline can be compared to Klaroline ship.

      • Jane says:

        “It was a particularly unusual methodology for this show”
        Oh please what methodology? It was a back up ship, you could’ve build a better ship on Damon and Bonnie’s friendship. But JP set her heart on Delena, so here we have Stefan and Caroline “slowly falling in love” happening. And it’s too much of a coincidence that writers only started moving these two in a romantic direction after they lost Nina and main ship. And how they did it, was just ridiculous. Everyone were telling Stefan to please look at Caroline, who loves him dearly and such a good girl for him. Come on, this ship couldn’t be more tragic for the development of Caroline’s character. But JP can’t write without ships, so here we got her torturing the living hell out of Stefan and Caroline’s relationship.
        And I’m sure if they opted for Stelena, it would be Damon who would end up with Bonnie (or, less likely, Caroline). And then writers’d revisit all the ties that Damon had with either of the girls in previous seasons and try their hardest to make it look like it was meant to be that from the start.
        You seriously think that writers who give lines like “I intend to be your last” (Klaroline) or “I will never give up on us” (Matt and Elena) or numerous Stelena are soulmates/is “epic” talks, had any idea what ships will be the endgames?
        So please stop with that Steroline was meant to be bullpoo. JP said many times before that she didn’t know what would be the endgames. Given that none of the ships are “more epic” than the other, my heart is with the pairings that were never even meant to be IT, that happened PURELY out of insane chemistry between the characters, one of these are Klaroline.

        • Jason says:

          When I spoke of the show’s methodology, it was in reference to Vampire Diaries’ tendency to burn through plot, romantic or otherwise, like a fire storm. By contrast, Steroline was very methodical, until the writers gave themselves no choice but to fall in line with a more standard approach. Then the arbitrary machinations of melodrama reared their head. The events of the last two seasons have been, more or less, par for the course. That wasn’t the case in the years leading up to that point. The writers have admitted to a certain trepidation, during that time. Not wanting to wreck the purity of Stefan and Caroline’s friendship, but aware that by highlighting it, they couldn’t help but see it evolve, they chose to restrain their nature (likely fearing their own destructive tedencies) and take a delicate approach. Julie Plec has admitted that, as early as the beginning of season two (during Caroline’s transition), it became apparent to the brain trust in charge, that something really interesting could happen there. It’s really the only instance on the show where they chose to play it cool, making it contrary to their usual methodology. What the writers considered endgame is almost secondary, because, as I’ve stated, I’m wholly pessimistic that any ship ends on a happy note. The show’s gothic nature would tend to lend itself to a more lugubrious end, full of tears and painful longing. It’s not what I want, but I fear it’s what we’ll get. Well…maybe Bonnie and Enzo end up together, both dead and loving it in her brand new happy place. In this show it would be acceptable to be happy when you’re dead. For everybody else, if they’re still kicking, I see a loss of some kind. On Twitter, Julie Plec called the ending sad and beautiful, which denotes a plan to make us hurt so good. Of course, “good” is relative to one’s own masochistic tendencies. After eight years of caring about these characters, it’s not my go to option, but at least we all get to suffer together. Julie Plec will bring about shipper unity by giving no one what they want. Perhaps she’ll get the Nobel Peace Prize.

          • Jane says:

            I understand what you’re saying and I get that majourity of SC fans probably see it the same way. But I don’t think they played SC “cool” or took a “delicate approach” like you put it. If anything, the moment they started turning them into a couple, they went nuts throwing non-ending obsticles their way and in attempt to keep sc entertaining they’ve broken them up more times than Stelena and Delena put together. Did you notice that Stefan and Caroline stopped having heart-to-hearts after they got together and instead of talking their problems through (like a couple built on friendship would do), they just either passionately kissed it away or ignored their issues all together. Like how they went over that tiny vampire-human issue in a few words during Stefan’s last proposal. I mean, come on! It’s let’s-sit-down-and-talk-about-my-immortality-and-you-aging-every-day kinda situation. Especially since they are fresh after a break up. Would you marry a girl few days after another break up? I don’t think so. So why a mother of two kids and 170 year old man are acting like hormonal teens? Anyway, first they had an episode in which Caroline specifially talks about loving being a vamp, and then they turn Stefan human and marry them. So either they raising the stakes to hurt fans real bad in the final episode, or they’re just using sc to give Stefan’s story some kind of closure. Or both, JP can be cruel.

          • Jason says:

            I agree with you Jane, as I alluded to at the beginning of my last missive. The delicacy I spoke of was in reference to the first six years. The last two have been another matter entirely. I still love and support Steroline because I love the characters and who they are to each other, but I’ve been frustrated with how they’ve developed things during season seven and eight. The truth is, Stefan and Caroline’s problems are indicative of a larger Vampire Diaries problem. All relationships on the show are treated in an equally overwrought fashion. It stands out for Steroline because, up until the end of season 6, they were a point of contrast to the usual histrionics. Once the writers moved forward with a full fledged relationship, they fell back on their old modus operandi. Like you said, the friendship part of their relationship got pushed aside for more traditional melodrama. Instead of allowing them to remain a rock for the show to lean on, they leaned into a morass of plot contortions that made them little different than every other couple on the show. It’s always been a crutch for the writers to rely on this “Young Adult” version of romance, as if every one of them is a teenager having a Freaky Friday moment in adult bodies. Maturity was never in the cards, I suppose. It explains why they were so fearful about going all in on Steroline, for so many years. They knew what they couldn’t keep themselves from turning it into. I don’t blame Stefan and Caroline because, after all, they’re still more or less the same and Candice and Paul still fit so well together. I blame the writers for taking something elegant and trying to cram it into a mold it was never made for. But they need their mournful ending and by God, they’re going to get it.

          • Jane says:

            Yes I agree maturity and consistency aren’t tvd strongest sides. They demonstrated their ability to create charismatic couples many times, but once two get together, JP doesn’t know how to keep them interesting. So great ships sank with either someone dying or an actor leaving or… will see what happens to SC and DE.
            As for the ending, JP said many times that she knew the ending since season 1, meaning before Steroline became friends and before Delena happened. So logically the ending then never depended on the ships at all.

        • Fabrizia says:

          Here here! JP killed Liz Forbes because Stefan needed to feel sorry for Caroline and be close to her. He doesn’t love her, which is why he keep having all these doubts.

    • MangoMagic says:

      I agree. Steroline is definitely not my cup of tea and I tuned out because of it but this slide show brought back a lot of memories. The best seasons were the first three! I wish the show had ended on a high note but on the bright side it’s not ending as a train wreck…almost.

      • Loren says:

        Completely agree. Steroline are just creepy.
        Seasons 1, 2 and 3 were the best.
        Now it will just be remembered as a “train wreck”

    • Stacey says:

      I despise Steroline. Their friendship was beautiful but that was utterly ruined by this disgusting ship. Basically, they paired them together because they had nothing better to do, and everyone else was paired off. If Elena was still on the show these last 2 seasons then the triangle would still be in place. I am just glad it’s not endgame, thank you spoilers!

    • I was never on the Stefan/Caroline train either. Probably because I dislike when they take a female character and have her date every guy on the show. I just don’t like what they have done with her character. It is crazy too how she had no reaction to Tyler dying and then forgave Stefan so fast for killing Enzo. I mean, her and Bonnie have been friends forever!

      • Brigid says:

        No one cared that Damon murdered Tyler. They moved on and forgave him with no questions and they knew Tyler longer. Everyone is suppose to hate Stefan for murdering Enzo who was a douche until he dated Bonnie? Why is Damon forgiven but not Stefan who had his humanity turned off at the time? This is why I can’t stand you hypocritical “fans”. It’s so ridiculous.

        • Gift says:

          Hahaha u can’t imagine how feel reading all this comment. Stefan just kill one person dear to a friend nd he is being crucified but Damon has kill many close friends,family members to them nd they still get over it nd let all be forgiven ah! ridiculous.

        • Never said Damon should have been forgiven either. That was ridiculous too.

      • Gift says:

        Aren’t we over that already? we’ve moved on now. where u expecting Caroline to kill Stefan nd put a nail on his coffin to prove that she is furious? It wasn’t Stefan’s fault! something unfortunate happened. it was bad, sad nd awful let’s just move on. Enzo is going to brought back so chill.

    • Gift says:

      Hahaha I’m sure the heart likes what it likes. the pairing of Stefan nd Caroline was a wrong move even I agree. But u know what I would say…….

      • Jane says:

        Yes yes you’re going to get Steroline happy ending for your Stefan and I’m going to get Klaroline HE for my Klaus and since tvd ends on Friday (and for the lack of Caroline-doppelgänger) you go first!

        • Gift says:

          Thanks Jane I hope we get to have more conversation on other shows. I know we still have the originals.

        • Gift says:

          Thanks Jane I hope we get to have more conversations on other shows. I know we still have the originals.

          • Jane says:

            Oh yes, my mind is fixed on tvd ending, I forgot TO starts next week! I’m dreading it a little, after seeing Camille in the promo, didn’t Leah say all her goodbyes already? Plus I wonder whether JP will give Salvatores happy endings. If not, then there is little hope for HE for Mikaelsons. Salvatores still kinda “nicer” monsters, they don’t just bring each other dead girls as a peace offering after a fight and stuff like that.

  6. Drew says:

    I agree that Jeremy and Elena had a great relationship later in the show, but I can’t forgive his hairstyle in the later years. I much preferred the clean-cut hair look he had in the early seasons.

    On a side note, out of all the characters from the pilot, the one I’m still most surprised at having survived this long is Matt. He’s been a victim countless times, he’s had every disadvantage life could throw at him, and could have been a goner any season. But he persists. Must be that special blood in his family line…

    • Jane says:

      I’m pretty sure it was very much intentional to keep Matt human from start to finish. Every other character from MF gang is/was supernatural, even Ric & Jeremy. At this point Matt is actually the most extraordinary by being an ordinary human.

      • Drew says:

        Yeah, I also believe that it was intentional. It’s just shocking when you look at his circumstances, skill sets, and all the obstacles thrown at him, that he made it to the end of the series. He’s a bit jaded, but he still has that everyman quality about him.

    • Gift says:

      Yea it’s his faith or should I say destiny lol

  7. Drew says:

    Well, this got me nostalgic so I just looked at the Pilot episode cast list on IMDB to see who else was there, and laughed when I saw these two characters listed: “Peeing Guy” and “Peeing Guy #2”. Somehow they didn’t make it into the TV Line Pilot Photo retrospective??!!!! LOL (Probably a good thing, like when the Willie Aames short-shorts tug-of-rope photo was judiciously cropped! Good choices!)

  8. Stacey says:

    Many good memories with this show, but all from Seasons 1 through 5. Season 6 was boring with the exceptions of Kai and Bamon, last season was the worst, and the first half of this season was not much better. This went from can’t miss to dvr. On a more positive note, one of my favorite scenes of the series is the introduction of Katherine in the season 1 finale. That was such a twist I didn’t see coming. I have high hopes for a satisfying finale since KW co-wrote it!

    • Gift says:

      I would say it’s the originals, klaus, Elijah nd the whole Mikaelsons family. Nothing will ever bit them for me.

  9. Ella says:

    Aw, they all look so young and adorable! This ep was a good reason why Steroline never worked for me. He goes out of his way to *crush* her and I had a soft spot for Caroline right from the start. And man, I’ve been rewatching lately and I totally forgot how awful Tyler was in the beginning! Kudos to Trevino for his work in turning him around and making him likeable. Too bad they ran out of things to do in S4.

  10. Jessica Brazalovich says:

    As someone who grew up obsessed with LJ Smith’s books and who actually wrote a script for a Vampire Diaries movie in the late 90s (Sarah Michelle Gellar was my Elena, because I was not only the script writer, I was apparently also in charge of casting)…

    I believe my initial pilot reaction was “Wait, why isn’t Bonnie a redhead with Druid ties? Why aren’t the Salvatores Italian? Hold on, is Caroline nice now? WHERE IS MEREDITH???”

    Still miss some aspects of the novels. Say what you want about the later ones (and I’ll agree with anything past Dark Reunion), I never got the level of female camaraderie in the tv series that I got from Bonnie/Elena/Meredith. I missed that all the way up until the end.

    Also, I will never not ship Stefan/Elena.

  11. Gift says:

    There is nothing delicate about Stefan nd Caroline ‘s relationship, they were never meant to be. JP used them to try nd repair what she had already destroyed on the show. It was clear from day one which couple were supposed to be together but shamed the show by creating a relationship out of betrayal nd character. Damon was in love with Katherine from the past he had a business falling for Elena again. But JP had to destroy everything in her own way. They would have built his relationship with Bonnie showing how he got over nd moved on from kat/Elena nd falls deeply in love with Bonnie. That would have been better nd reasonable. I rather Caroline stay alone nd still search for her true love nd happy ending one day with a man who truly nd actually love nd deserve her. This was klaus is brought into the picture. I can understand that she they couldn’t make her be with him in the show but there is no way she couldn’t be with in the originals. The Stefan’s relationship with Caroline wasn’t the problem here, the writer went too far pairing them together when it was wrong all along. I only got on board because I so much love the character “STEFAN” all I want to see is that he gets his happy ending so……..

    • Jane says:

      It’s strange, before Delena actually got together they had crazy chemistry, as strong as Klaroline maybe. But looking back at how Damon and Elena got together, I don’t think it was right by Stefan. And it’s not a matter of who got the girl but just how it all happened. Damon was lurking around Elena for a while but then when Stefan was gone and was going through hell after he fought so hard for Elena, Damon used Stefan’s absence and misfortune to get Elena to cross that line. Dirty move and horrible betrayal when considering that Stefan is his baby brother. And then the writers were going out of their way to kill all the Stelena-meant-to-be feels by explaining their connection through that doppelgänger bullpoo, which I think was unfair to Stelena fans. It’s like, don’t re-write the history just cuz you decided to make another ship the IT couple.
      I’m only really emotionally invested in Klaroline, Bonnie and Klaus. But still fans of Stelena were badly mistreated, much worse than us, Klaroline folks who get occasional phone calls and random visits to New Orleans once in a blue moon just to keep us hooked.

  12. Val M says:

    But the foreshadow of Caroline being the one for someone has not yet been fulfilled. Yes, she has a lot of love interest and maybe they loved her but it doesn’t mean that for those guys she is the one. For Matt it came first his hate for vampires, for Tyler his revenge and for Stefan Damon and Elena. We’re still waiting for that cicle to be full.

  13. After reading this I might have to binge this summer! It has been forever since I have seen the pilot. Loved the Funko comment! I definitely need a Damon Salvatore pop figure to add to my collection. I have always been a Stefan and Elena fan and the first few seasons, to me, are the best. Going to miss the Salvatore brothers and I hope we get a good scene between them in the finale, but it feels like it is time to end the show.

    • Jane says:

      Yes, I criticised Camille’s character for being all about Klaus, someone joked that even after death she is stuck giving Klaus pep talks (promo for S04)
      But lately Caroline’s character has been all about Stefan and it got especially extreme in this short last season where Caroline acts like a girl who would forgive Stefan killing Bonnie, let alone Bonnie’s man. Caroline’s first love and childhood friend killed – poop happens. By doing things like that the writers actually got some fans like me waiting for TVD to be over to get closure after all these years and be done with it.

      • Gift says:

        Yea but Caroline is far far better than Camille’s character. I can’t even bear to watch her scene on the originals. True Caroline is all about Stefan now but wouldn’t say it’s love? she is crazy about him to a point nothing he does gets her upset with him.

  14. Gift says:

    Right I wondered that too didn’t Damon turn into one at s1 ep1 or was it Stefan with the fog or something.

  15. Misti says:

    I will always always always always remember Damon as he was lounging in Caroline’s bed reading “Twilight” and commenting that he lives “in the real world, where vampires burn in the sun”. I honestly think that’s the exact moment that I fell in love with Damon Salvatore and threw all caution to the wind where it related to this show. :D

  16. Jane says:

    Ok, Andy, we discussed Steroline plenty, can I now have Klaroline spoiler pretty please?