The Vampire Diaries
By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Blood, violence are the real draw in angsty vampire drama.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Themes include loyalty to family and friends, helping people in need, and learning from previous mistakes in order to make real changes.
Positive Role Models
Complex main characters have good intentions, but their behavior (including underage drinking) isn't always exemplary. One vampire prefers to hunt animals rather than drink human blood.
The few characters of color who exist are usually supporting players and quickly killed off. Women are often seen as helpless and in need of rescue. The most prominent Black character (played by Kat Graham) is given more agency as seasons progress.
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Violence & Scariness
Fantastical violence and conflict (including vampire attacks, torture scenes, bloody wounds and bites, and hand-to-hand combat that involves people throwing each other into buildings and out of windows, etc.) are part of every episode. Characters die.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Heated kissing between teens and references to "hooking up" for sex. Seduction.
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Occasional use of words like "crap," "jerk," "bitch," and "ass," along with offensive terms such as "tranny mess."
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Products & Purchases
Some advertising (for Bing) appears on-screen during the show. Various spin-offs exist, including Legacies.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Most main characters drink alcohol socially, even though they're underage. Some drink to the point of being drunk; rarely are there consequences. Some characters smoke cigarettes, one character struggles with a substance abuse disorder.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Vampire Diaries is a slickly produced, bingeable supernatural drama based on L.J. Smith's bestselling young adult novels. The series plays into the perennial popularity of vampires and all things otherworldly. That said, it's a lot edgier than Twilight, making it an iffy choice for younger teens. The violence is pretty graphic -- there are torture scenes, bloody wounds, and combat shown -- and romantic scenes can get pretty steamy. The show also tends to portray underage drinking as commonplace without showing serious consequences. And if you're looking for an accurate portrayal of young people today, look elsewhere: Most of The Vampire Diaries' cast is White, with only one Black character seeing significant screen time.
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The Vampire Diaries
Based on 128 parent reviews
Loved it, but definitely 15 yrs +
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would deffinitly recomend for tweens
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What's the Story?
Based on the bestselling young adult novels by L.J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls and centers on the interplay between orphaned Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and two vampire brothers, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Both Elena and Stefan keep track of their thoughts and feelings by writing in their journals, but Stefan's diary also contains fascinating details about his complicated past and the town's surprising supernatural history. Later in the series, the plot thickens with the arrivals of Elena's vampire doppelganger, Katherine (also played by Dobrev), "original" vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan), and vampire hunter Rayna (Leslie-Anne Huff).
Is It Any Good?
Fans of vampires and young adult dramas might enjoy this show's style and themes, which include teen angst, dramatic tension, and conventionally attractive characters who become more complex in each season. The Vampire Diaries took off as a hit with teens and young adults, and maybe even a few of their parents. While there are obvious parallels to the Twilight storyline, it's worth noting that the book trilogy that inspired this series was originally released in 1991, predating Stephenie Meyer's Twilight bestsellers by nearly 15 years.
The Vampire Diaries delivers better-than-average entertainment, boasting a soundtrack that includes songs from artists like The Killers and MGMT. This Teen Choice- and People's Choice-nominated series also gets props for maturing along with its characters, expanding the plot to include much more about Mystic Falls' fascinating past.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the ongoing appeal of seeing vampires and other supernatural beings in stories like The Vampire Diaries. Why do audiences find magical creatures so appealing?
How does the show portray teen behavior, particularly when it comes to sex and drinking? Do the characters' choices lead to real-life consequences?
If you've read the books that the series is based on, how does the show compare? Did the writers take any creative license? If so, why do you think they changed the story?
- Premiere date: September 10, 2009
- Cast: Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley
- Network: CW
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, High School, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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