Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

The Vampire Diaries

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Vampire Diaries TV Poster Image
Blood, violence are the real draw in angsty vampire drama.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 78 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 281 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The central conflict pits a good-hearted vampire against his evil vampire brother -- and his own baser instincts. But underage characters also drink without clear consequences and make references to casual sex.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters have good core intentions, but their behavior (including underage drinking) isn't always exemplary. No one is entirely positive, although a few characters are obvious villains and entirely negative. Despite his innate thirst for human blood, the show's "good vampire" character fights it and prefers to hunt animals instead.


Violent conflict (including vampire attacks and hand-to-hand combat that involves people throwing each other into buildings and out of windows, etc.) is part of every episode -- and so is blood. Characters also experience life-altering moments of violence, including death.


Some heated kissing between teens and references to casual sex and seduction. Characters equate the term "hooking up" with actual intercourse, with no emphasis on practicing safe sex.


Occasional use of words like "crap" and "ass," along with descriptive terms such as "tranny mess."


Some advertising (for Bing) appears on the screen during the show, and characters from the series are appearing in commercials that air in conjunction with the show.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Most of the main characters (including the heroine) drink alcohol socially on occasion, even though they're underage. Some drink to the point of being drunk, although there are rarely any consequences for their actions. Some characters smoke cigarettes, and one character has a serious drug problem, although he attempts to get clean over the course of the series.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that teens will probably want to watch this slickly produced supernatural drama. One obvious reason is that The Vampire Diaries is about young people -- and attractive ones at that. It also plays into the popularity of vampires and all things otherworldly. That said, it's a lot edgier than Twilight, making it an iffy choice for younger teens. For one thing, the violence is pretty graphic -- although most of the time, it isn't over-the-top gory -- and some scenes between characters are pretty steamy. The show also tends to portray underage drinking as commonplace without showing too many serious consequences.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byelenagilbert12123 September 13, 2014

people make it seem a lot worse than it really is

First of all, Common Sense Media makes it seem so bad but it really isn't.There is violence, swearing and drugs but no sex. Common Sense describes sex as k... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 year old Written byalyssap2 May 23, 2016


OK, I started watching this when I was 11... It was and still is one of my favorite shows. it's not scary just a few parts can be. It's really well wr... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 3, 2011
Kid, 12 years old December 10, 2010

Best show ever! But some iffy stuff

I absolutley adore Vampire Diaries! I noticed the show at about the 5th episode of the 1st season. My mom knew that I was vampire obssesed so she let me watch i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the best-selling young adult novels by L.J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES centers on the interplay between orphaned beauty Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and two drop-dead gorgeous vampire brothers -- the good-hearted Stefan (Paul Wesley) and the sadistic 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 arrival of Elena's vampire doppelganger, Katherine (also played by Dobrev in a dual role), and "original" vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan).

Is it any good?

For vampire-crazed fans of the Twilight series (both in book and movie form) and the adults-only TV drama True Blood, The Vampire Diaries has just about everything, including teen angst, dramatic tension, and crush-worthy creatures of the night. The show took off as a hit with teens and young adults...and maybe even a few of their parents. And 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.

Even if you're on the fence about vampires, werewolves and witches, The Vampire Diaries still delivers better-than-average entertainment, boasting a soundtrack that oozes cool (with songs from artists like The Killers and MGMT) and a talented cast that can really get its brood on. 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's fascinating past.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of vampires and other supernatural beings in the media. Why do audiences -- particularly young adults -- find magical creatures so appealing? Do you think it's just a fad that will wear out its welcome?

  • How does the show portray teen behavior, particularly when it comes to sex and drinking? Do fictional characters' choices lead to real-life consequences?

  • If you've read the books that this 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?

TV details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love vampires

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate