The Vampire Diaries officially turns 10 years old today, and like any 10-year-old it's had its fair share of shining moments and moments we'd all rather forget. But overall, The CW drama delivered eight seasons of amazing episodes that make us want to watch and rewatch them all (when we aren't catching up with our favorite TVD vets on Legacies, of course).
Over the impressive span of 171 episodes that The Vampire Diaries clocked before coming to an end in 2017, there were several episodes that established the show as the teen drama to beat. Whether Damon (Ian Somerhalder), Stefan (Paul Wesley), and Elena (Nina Dobrev) were shimmying the night away at a Decade Dance or escaping certain death (or both at the same time), The Vampire Diaries consistently delivered must-watch weeknight entertainment.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show's series premiere, TV Guide has compiled a list of our favorite Vampire Diaries episodes of all time — and then we painfully pared that lengthy list down to the top ten episodes because, unlike the Salvatores, we know you don't have hundreds of years to wile away. Keep reading to see if your favorite made the cut!
1. "Haunted" (Season 1, Episode 7)
Does anyone do a Halloween episode better than The Vampire Diaries? Though the stakes were always high on this show, "Haunted" marked the first time that a major character bit the dust, showing just how easily any of our favorite teens could be killed off. As the troubled one of the group, Vicki (Kayla Ewell) was an easy target for Damon, who caused her human death, but no one could have predicted that she would be turned into a vampire and then mercilessly staked by Stefan all in the same day. RIP Vicki!
2. "Founder's Day" (Season 1, Episode 22)
Vampire Diaries was already firing on all cylinders by the time it reached the twisty Season 1 finale, which saw Mayor Lockwood (Robert Pralgo) die, Tyler (Michael Trevino) learn that he's a supernatural being thanks to that pesky Gilbert device, and both Stefan and Damon nearly scorched to death in a basement fire. What really set this gripping hour apart from the rest, though, was that unforgettable cliffhanger in which Katherine, pretending to be Elena, stabbed John Gilbert (David Anders) before an unsuspecting Elena entered the house. It was the first time we got to see how ruthless and diabolical Katherine could be and that deliciously gory moment when she chopped off John's fingers is forever imprinted in our brains.
3. "Masquerade" (Season 2, Episode 7)
Katherine Pierce's ongoing attack on Mystic Falls came to a climax in "Masquerade," when the gang finally got the upper hand. In this episode, we got to see Katherine, Damon, and Stefan locked in a room together, forced to hash out their sordid histories at long last. In the end, Stefan and Damon might have pulled one over on Katherine by locking her in the tomb, but it turned out that would be just one victory in a series of skirmishes they would have with her over the years.
4. "The Last Dance" (Season 2, Episode 18)
This may not have been the first or only episode centered around the Decade Dance but it's certainly the most memorable, and that's due in part to Matthew Davis's stellar performance as Klaus (Joseph Morgan), who was inhabiting Alaric's body. Employing the show's signature breakneck twists, like Bonnie (Kat Graham) sacrificing herself only to reveal it was all a ruse, the unforgettable hour took us on a wild but fun ride while also packing a serious emotional punch.
5. "The Sun Also Rises" (Season 2, Episode 21)
"The Sun Also Rises" had it all: death, betrayal, life-altering revelations, and Klaus at his most delectably villainous. The entire season had been building up the sacrificial ritual, which lived up to the hype as the temperamental original hybrid picked off his three "goddesses" — Elena, Jenna (Sara Canning), and Jules (Michaela McManus) — one by one. The episode, which broke our hearts with Jenna's tragic death, proved the series wasn't afraid to venture into bold, new directions.
6. "The Reckoning" (Season 3, Episode 5)
No villain was more wickedly fun than Klaus, who turned Senior Prank Night into one of the most tense, dramatic, and exhilarating episodes of Vampire Diaries' electric eight seasons. A gripping hour from start to finish, "The Reckoning" produced several iconic moments, like that neck snap heard around the world and Stefan flipping off his humanity switch.
7. "Dangerous Liaisons" (Season 3, Episode 14)
One of the things The Vampire Diaries did best was center episodes around town events that brought all their characters together, and one of the greatest instances of this storytelling device was the dazzling Mikaelson Ball in Season 3. Not only did it establish the powerful family of original vampires as serious enemies, it flawlessly juggled each character's complicated storylines as they all twirled around each other on the dance floor.
8. "The Departed" (Season 3, Episode 22)
The Vampire Diaries is great at ripping our hearts into a million pieces and that was never more apparent than in the Season 3 finale "The Departed." A deeply haunting hour that saw Elena contemplate a simpler time before those hunky Salvatore brothers upended her life, the episode delivered one of the most gut-wrenching deaths of the series when Alaric died in Damon's arms at the same time that Elena drowned after forcing Stefan to save Matt instead.
9. "500 Years of Solitude" (Season 5, Episode 11)
As the 100th Episode of The Vampire Diaries, "500 Years of Solitude" pulled out all the stops. We got cameos from long-dead characters, visits from the Originals (who had peaced out to their own spin-off by that point), and even a Katherine Pierce-themed drinking game. This episode truly highlighted what fans loved about The Vampire Diaries, and it served as an awesome celebration of everything that had come before it.
10. "I Was Feeling Epic" (Season 8, Episode 16)
All good things come to an end, and even though we were sad to see The Vampire Diaries go, the series finale was one of the best episodes the show ever put out. It perfectly balanced resolving every character's major storylines while delivering several goodbyes that brought us to tears. "I Was Feeling Epic" celebrated where these characters had been and more importantly where they were all going, regardless of who lived and who died when all was said and done. It was, for lack of a better word, epic.
All eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries are currently streaming on Netflix.
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