The Vampire Diaries

Common Sense Media says

Blood, violence are the real draw in angsty vampire drama.





What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters, High school, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The Vampire Diaries was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written bymamasknowbest October 9, 2011

Not as bad as people make it sound

The thing I don't really like about Common Sense is that they do not update their materials. This show has been out 3 years now and their reviews are based on the first 3 episodes of season 1. This show has gotten remarkably more appropriate. In the first season Jeremy was a drug addict due to the fact his parents died. However by Season 2 he stopped completely. Their was a little sexual content in season 1 but they've toned it down to just kissing, and shirt less men. The only thing their is would be violence. There is and always will be blood and death on this show. But you have to know that kids who are mature enough to know that vampires aren't real can handle this show. I'm always concerned as to what my kids are reading or watching, so I always screen these things. And I believe this show is fine for 13 year olds and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old January 3, 2011
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 it then decided it was inappropriate. Well, a year later, I have become more mature so I had started watching it online. I thought it was amazing! It does have some iffy content. Honestly the violence would be the worst. Of course the traditional stake in the heart. Some hearts are torn out by hand. But it is DEFINITLY not as nasty as that 2nd Indiana Jones movie( which is also amazing). The words are not to bad. I have only heard of 1 usage of the b-word (although i am probably not paying attention). No other bad ones really. The sexual content is not bad at all. Some dialogue, but nothing big. I mean, come on, what 10 year old hasn't seen a movie with at least a little bit of sexual content in it. This show is not to bad, the main one is episode 10- I think. But the worse thing would be the drinking and drugs and smoking. The youngest character, Jeremy, did and is doing drugs and is constantly smoking due to deppression- i think. All characters have done underage drinking in the show in almost every episode. Just make sure that the 21 age minimum for drinking is set with your teens/tweens. About the sexual content, say that it is immoral to have sex w/o being married. Also establish the consequences. Ex. unplanned pregnancy. I would recommend the book " Boys will put you on a Pedstal ( so they can look up your skirt)" for your girls. It expresses what is going on in a guys mind and all about that type of thing. I highly recommend it. I read it when my mom gave it to me when i was about 10, it was amazing. So this show is definitly not to bad. Just make sure that your kids know what not to do. A good message would be perserverence. A lot of teens in this show definitly shoe dedication and perserverence to what they believe in. So curl up on the couch and start watching this show with your kids at least 12 years of age! BYE! Everkat. - katherine
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages


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