The Vampire Diaries

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

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 96 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 346 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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byrachel b. May 18, 2020

Common sense media exaggerates a lot

PARENTS:... Before explaining that this shows is one of the best that I've seen here's my explanation. Common sense media exaggerates a lot when they... Continue reading
Adult Written byNancyS 3 October 26, 2015

This is not a show for teens

I am a little shocked that other parents think this show is good for teens and tweens. The show is pretty bloody, has a lot of sex, forced sexual situations, s... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLily N. April 29, 2019

Best TV show I have seen in my life!!- please read this review I spent an hour on it

FOR PARENTS-Before I review on how much I love this show I will tell you about things you should know. In the first episodes Elena's brother, Jeremy, uses... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bytruefact7 June 29, 2015

Not As Bad As Everyone Says It Is

I'm going to be 15 in about two weeks and I started watching few months ago and am now almost done with the whole series. I really don't think it... 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?

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