‘Living’ is a complicated matter in The Vampire Diaries, with many undead creatures running around, ghosts interfering in town business, and resurrections surprisingly commonplace. Nearly every main character on the show died and came back in some form over the course of the show.
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Side characters were not as lucky, with every supporting player from season 1 of the show dying permanently before the finale. In addition, one of the show’s leads sacrificed himself in the finale, and another main character was killed off in the final season. Because of that, only seven characters from the show’s debut season survived the finale, with the potential to make appearances on the show’s ongoing spinoff, Legacies.
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While fans may debate whether Damon or Stefan was the better Salvatore brother, it is hard to imagine what The Vampire Diaries would be like without Damon. His romances with Katherine and Elena are central to the show, as well as his friendships with Alaric, Liz, Bonnie, and Enzo.
Damon only died twice on the show, once when he was helping his loved ones escape the crumbling Other Side (which wasn’t permanent, since he was transported to the 1994 Prison World with Bonnie), and again when his human life with Elena ended in the jump forward at the end of the finale. While he technically did die permanently in the finale, the time jump means that he lived out a full and complete life, and is still alive at the time of the spinoff, making him one of the finale’s survivors.
The Vampire Diaries’ hero (and sometimes villain) was Elena Gilbert. Because of that, she was never dead long, though she was put into a coma through the final two seasons because of Nina Dobrev’s exit from the show. Elena transitioned into a vampire at the end of season 3 and visited the Other Side at the end of season five, but she didn’t die permanently until after she had lived a long, happy human life with Damon at the end of the flash forward.
Elena is referenced in Legacies, including Josie staying at her and Damon’s house as she tries to adjust to a life without magic, which tells fans that she survived the finale, with the potential to make a cameo in the latest spinoff.
Alaric Saltzman was one of the characters in The Vampire Diaries who died the most, although his deaths never stuck for long. He died frequently in the first few seasons, each time returning due to the magic of the Gilbert Ring. Eventually, he is turned into an Enhanced Original by Esther, which required his death, but again, it was only temporary.
He does remain dead for most of season 4 after his link with Elena killed him, but returns shortly thereafter when the group helps their loved ones escape the crumbling Other Side. He dies one more time in the series when his magic is drained from him but is saved this time by Jo Parker, one of the most beloved in a long line of Alaric’s lovers who died. After that point, he survives the rest of the show, taking on a prominent role in Legacies.
Jeremy is another character who died frequently, only to then survive the finale. Jeremy repeatedly died and was revived by the Gilbert ring, as well as being resurrected by Bonnie twice. When he was written off the show, it was through his proclivity to hunting vampires and wanted to keep those in Mystic Falls safe, not through death.
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Because he was largely out of the picture for the last two seasons of The Vampire Diaries, he survived some of the more chaotic plotlines those seasons delivered. At some point, fans discover that he began working for the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted, which led to his cameo appearance in Legacies.
Matt Donovan is the only main character in The Vampire Diaries to remain human throughout the show, never transforming into another supernatural creature. He suffered a great deal of loss at the hands of vampires and briefly becomes a vampire hunter, but he manages to keep that side of himself in balance with his care for his supernatural friends.
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At the end of The Vampire Diaries, Matt has the chance to see his sister again, which helps him to cope with some of his grief. He survives the finale and appears in two episodes of Legacies, where audiences get to see him represent an in-the-know human faction, like that shown on The Originals, where he assists—and holds accountable—the local supernatural population.
Bonnie Bennett is a beloved character on The Vampire Diaries, who most fans agree deserved better than she got. Bonnie was one of the most level-headed characters, saying what fans were already thinking about the supernatural happenings in the town. Although Bonnie died many times over the course of the show, always willing to be a martyr for her friends and loved ones, Elena and Enzo’s spirits eventually convince her to live her life to the fullest.
At the end of the finale, Bonnie leaves Mystic Falls to travel the world. Though she doesn’t appear on Legacies, she is mentioned frequently, which leads fans to believe the character is alive and thriving, keeping her promise to Enzo.
Caroline is the only main character in The Vampire Diaries to only die once when she was forced to transition from human to vampire. From that point on, despite getting involved in several major battles, Caroline remains alive, avoiding the fate of most of her friends.
She is in the most episodes of the show besides the lead three characters, had a minor role on the last season of The Originals, and is mentioned frequently (and had a voice-over cameo) in Legacies. With all of this being the case, she may well be the best survivor on the show.
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