"[Executive Producer] Kevin [Williamson], of course, who often comes up with the brilliant stuff, was trying to like hell to crack the Vicki/Damon side story so it would be fun and entertaining and not boring," describes Plec. "He flashed back to some long ago days in club scene New York. He said, ‘I feel like this needs to be like a coke death party, where these two people have been up all night doing drugs. At first, they get wild and rowdy and then they dance. And then they trash the room. It always ends in tears and hugs and regrets.’ [Then] he said, ‘How great would it be if, in that moment, Vicki is bottoming out, and Damon says, "You poor, poor, poor thing. Your life really does suck. Well, I’m going to make it better for you." Boom! Snaps the neck.’"
Elena is Katherine’s doppelganger
"I’ll be honest with you, we were baffled by what to do with that when we first signed on to the series because in the books, Katherine and Elena were meant to be identical. But even in the way that they describe Katherine in the books is that she looks a lot like Elena. When we were first starting to break the season, we were like, ‘Well, does she look a lot like her or does she look exactly like her? Because how cool would it be, in that first episode, to tee up a mystery? We just spent this whole episode believing that this vampire is here to see this girl, only to realize that he’s got a picture of her from 150 years ago.’… Then we had to pay it off. Why do they look like each other? What does all this mean? We decided to create a doppelganger mythology to explain why Nina Dobrev was playing both roles. The books didn’t give us a lot to work with there. [Laughs]"
Katherine isn’t in the tomb
Damon arrived in Mystic Falls on a mission to free his long lost love from the tomb she’d been entrapped in. The joke was on him, because Katherine was actually freely traveling the globe while spying on his brother Stefan.
Elena has surprising origins
You think your family is complicated? Elena discovered that her uncle was really her dad and her mother was a vampire! Sadly, both were killed before they could have a truly dysfunctional family Thanksgiving.
Katherine (posing as Elena) cuts off John’s fingers
Plec had this to say about her favorite Vampire Diaries plot twist: "I remember when it was pitched in the room, when we all were collectively figuring out how to do the Katherine/Elena bait-and-switch. Kevin was sitting silently for about 15 minutes, listening to all the ideas, and then he gets up and says, ‘Here’s a bad idea, but what if it was something like this….’ He pitched, basically, the sequence that we shot. The entire room did everything but burst into applause, because it was just so cool. It was that feeling of, if you can blow the minds of a room full of writers, who are trained to expect anything, then you know that it’s an Olympian plot twist. That feeling of adrenaline that comes attached to it is so great. That’s the first time I remember being like, ‘Holy s–t! Kevin’s a genius. [Laughs] We’re all going to do very well on this show.'”
Katherine kills Caroline, turning her into a vampire
"We knew that there was a great newbie vamp story to be told. With Caroline, it seemed so rich because here was a girl who, in the pilot, was so insecure and needy and felt like no one ever chose her. … We thought, how fun would it be to take a control freak vampire, magnify all that so that she actually becomes a very functional vampire, and, in being functional, finds her strength as a woman and a human being so that she is no longer the ‘Pick me, choose me, love me’ girl. … Caroline Forbes as a vampire is one of the most thrillingly exciting and enjoyable characters to write for because she just blossomed and everything about her became so crystal clear to us as writers that we just couldn’t get enough of her."
Damon snaps Jeremy’s neck
Let’s settle this once and for all, did Damon know that Jer was wearing the Gilbert ring that would bring him back to life? "This is a hot-button issue," Plec replies with a laugh. "As we said in Episode 3 that season, he admitted, no, he did not know. When he acted out in that moment, it was to kill and to make a point and to sever his relationship [and] ties with these people forever, to make the loudest, angriest and most aggressive statement he could. … The most fascinating thing that came out of that was the outpouring of people who were like, ‘Poor Damon. It’s Elena fault for rejecting him.’ For years, we’d sit in the writers room and be like, ‘People are morally bankrupt! [Laughs] Our fanbase is very forgiving — a lot more forgiving than we are.’ Kevin and I were convinced that Damon killing Jeremy would slow down the love triangle by about five seasons, if not kill it completely. That was a bold choice that we wanted to take. We wanted Damon to still be a true villain."
Mason and Katherine are in cahoots
When Tyler’s uncle showed up in Mystic Falls, it wasn’t entirely clear what he was up to — or who he was up to it with. (Come on, no one really thought he was just there to mentor his would-be werewolf nephew, right?) Things started to make a lot more sense when it was revealed that he was actually working with — and sexing up! — Katherine. Was it all just a game to see how many attractive guys the show could pair with its leading lady? "It did seem like it became a challenge at a certain point," admits Plec. "I think we all secretly wanted to make out with Taylor Kinney. [Laughs] So to give that gift to Nina Dobrev, it was like, ‘Here, Merry Christmas.’"
Tyler triggers the curse and becomes a werewolf
A series of unfortunate events at the Masquerade Ball — no good can come from a Mystic Falls event, folks — led to Tyler inadvertently killing a classmate and unleashing his wolfy side.
Klaus possesses Alaric’s body
While the idea was "born out of a desire to buy ourselves as much time as humanly possible to get the casting [of Klaus] right," Plec explains, it was actor Matt Davis who reaped the rewards. "It was the happiest couple weeks of his life on the show. He loved being on the show, but Alaric remained largely on the periphery just by definition of the role his character was serving in the series. So this is the first time he felt like he really got to do something fresh and be wicked and inhabit another character. He was in Heaven. He loved it."
The Sun and the Moon curse fake-out/Klaus is actually a hybrid
"Before we’d written a word," the Season 2 arc took a sharp and shocking turn that even surprised the writers in its creation, says Plec. "We were all going down one road, and we thought, ‘OK, this is smart, good mythology. What can we do to make it fresh?’ ‘OK, I got it, the Sun and the Moon curse that we just spent the last month talking about — what if it’s fake?’ That’s the one where we didn’t go into it intending to put a twist on it… It felt very comic book-y in its original form, and we always try to keep things grounded. So we got to have all the benefits of a massive prophecy-sized mythology, and then we got to rip the rug out from under it and say, ‘Hardy-har-har. All you suckers who believed that [Laughs], you’re watching the wrong show.’"
Klaus kills Jenna
"We knew that Klaus had to come in and do something very mean and very bold. … The meanest thing that Klaus had done that we knew about was throw his family into the ocean. So we hadn’t seen him be a villain yet. It’s the opposite of the big hero entrance. It’s the big villain entrance. What could he do that would be so horrific that it would cement his status as the Big Bad for the next season?"
Jeremy can see ghosts
In true Vampire Diaries fashion, the show closed out its second season with a major twist: The reappearance of two of Jeremy’s ex-girlfriends, Vicki and Anna! Oh, and they were both dead, so something was definitely up. (We later learned Jeremy got a parting gift from all those times he died and came back to life: He could now see loved ones on the other side.)