Everything’s a battle in the writers room of any show. (But according to our BL LB, the biggest one is always about what to have for lunch.)
‘The Vampire Diaries’ bosses reveal the seven biggest debates from the writers’ room, and the two smallest
by Samantha Highfill
Five seasons in and 100 episodes later, the writers behind all things related to Mystic Falls, the Salvatore brothers, and of course, doppelgängers have given us countless twists, turns, and heartbreaking memorable moments. But what were the stories that turned out differently than they expected? And if that’s the case, what had been their original plan? Was Elena originally going to remain a vampire? Actually, no. Was Jeremy always going to come back from the dead? Again, not so much. We caught up with executive producers Julie Plec and Caroline Dries to get a look back at seven of the biggest debates from the writers room over the past 100 episodes, as well as a glimpse into two storylines they never questioned and the real reason why the Originals are immortal (Hint: It wears a suit.).
Check out the biggest debates below:
Will the show have flashbacks? Believe it or not, those flashbacks that you have come to know and love were not always in the playbook. “It was one of the most hotly contested debates of our entire experience because Kevin [Williamson] was very very very aggressively opposed to the room’s desire to do flashbacks and basically tortured us for a good month and kept explaining all the reasons why flashbacks were not good writing and why it would be a terrible mistake and kept playing devil’s advocate, forcing the room to fight harder and harder and harder for why flashbacks would work, and I’m sitting there in the middle being like ‘Oh God, I don’t know,’” Plec said. “And then Kevin finally harrumphed and insisted that we take a vote, and it was very intense and very scary. It was a blind vote, and everybody had to write down yes or no and put it in a hat. He was playing the role of stern father very well and when we counted all the votes and he finally showed what his vote was, his vote was yes. That was the resolution of whether there would be flashbacks on The Vampire Diaries, so I think what he was doing was just making us really fight for it and prove that it was a necessary element to the show, and it turned out to be a good thing for him to make us fight because we realized all the great ways we could make them work, and they’ve worked like a charm ever since.”
When will Elena become a vampire? In the books, Elena’s transition occurred at the end of book one. But for Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, they considered all possibilities, from having Elena never become a vampire to making it happen at the end of season 2. “When Kevin and I first started on the show we were like, ‘When the hell are we going to do that? Are we ever going to do that? That seems kind of ridiculous. [Laughs] We certainly can’t do that in the first season. The strength of the human character of Elena is so powerful, we’re definitely not going to do it.’ I think we even made a joke to Dawn Ostroff at the time, ‘Oh in season 18 when we turn Elena into a vampire.’ Then, cut to season 2 when all the sudden, there was a brief moment in time where we were planning to turn Elena into a vampire by the end of season 2.”
“Low and behold we were able to think of introducing Klaus to the show and unveiling the hybrid mythology as slowly just propelled that whole storyline another season,” Dries added.
“We were like, if we’re going to do this freakin’ sun and moon sacrifice, we’ve got to kill her but we can’t kill her because she can’t be dead for the series, so that’s how she’ll become a vampire, that’s how they’ll save her is they’ll feed her vampire blood and she’ll wake up and she’ll be a vampire,” Plec said. “And the way that we found our way around that was Uncle John’s sacrifice and him finding that way to link his life to hers so that in death it was him who died instead of her and that beautiful letter that he wrote her about how he wanted her to grow up and have everything she wanted because she was extraordinary in her ordinary-ness, the speech with Skinny Love playing and me crying. That’s how we bought ourselves that freedom to follow through on everything we’d promised without having turned Elena into a vampire. And then the best part of that was that we were then able to play the entirety of season 3 knowing where we were going, knowing that at the end of the season, she would be killed for real and wake up as a vampire at the end of the season. So everything we did in season 3 was about Elena thematically questioning her life and questioning her morality and her strength as a human being. “
When will Stefan and Elena break up? In the end, Stefan and Elena called it quits on her front porch six episodes into season 4. But that wasn’t always the plan. “We went back and forth about does she break up with him or does he break up with her or do they not break up at all and are just sad and is it not final? From my memory we decided that if she dumped him and then went and jumped into bed with his brother the next episode, the passionate Delenas would be thrilled, but nobody else would be happy,” Plec said.
“The show is built around this love triangle and it’s always been these two brothers that love this girl and the girl loved one of the brothers but no the other and yet over seasons and seasons they got closer and Damon started really winning her over,” Plec continued. “I know in my mind, and not necessarily in everybody’s, but in my mind I felt very strongly – and I’m going to get killed for this – that Elena could not and would not separate from Stefan and fall in love with Damon until she was a vampire. Because along with becoming a vampire is sort of like a right of passage, it’s shifting into a new phase of your life, it’s shifting moralities, it’s shifting context, it’s heightened emotions. You feel different things stronger than you ever did before and given everything that Damon had done to Elena, given the fact that in season 2 he literally killed her brother, given all the chaos he had caused, in spite of their chemistry, I didn’t feel comfortable letting her let go of what is pure in her heart, which is Stefan, to explore the darker sides of her impulses and a more adult relationship in the form of Damon until her entire life had been turned inside out. It doesn’t make what she feels for Damon any less profound. If anything it’s more profound on some levels but one could not happen before the other in my mind. So everything was sort of stemming from that.”