This list is totally opinionated and filled with spoilers. I’m only ranking the characters based on their appearances in The Vampire Diaries because, at the time of writing this article, I am just beginning to watch The Originals (That accounts for Kol’s lower placement since he had some major character development in TO). Every character in these shows has some major flaws, but I’m looking for character development and overall awesomeness. My ranking system spans from best of the best to absolute trash with no redeeming qualities.
1. Enzo St. John
Weak start, but in the end he was there for Bonnie and only Bonnie. She deserved the world and he was willing to give it to her. He didn’t deserve his ending one bit. Plus he’s easy on the eyes. I got chills when Bonnie finally got him to flip his humanity switch back on. The recognition of love in his eyes when he realized he couldn’t let her die was perfect. His hatred for Damon was completely justified. He was literally left to burn alive in a house after helping to free Damon. I loved his development throughout the series. I wish we could have seen more of him. He didn’t deserve his death and Bonnie didn’t need to lose ANOTHER person.
2. Alaric Saltzman
So, Alaric. Always there for you as long as you’re reasonable. I loved when Damon killed him and he came back like nothing happened. Those Gilbert rings really came in handy. He didn’t deserve to lose Jo but he got himself together for his daughters. I wanted to smack his face when he called the girls “his” and not Caroline’s, but I will accept his apology since he was just angry.
3. Damon Salvatore
So obviously I’m team Damon, because…DAMN. But his character development was so impressive. Of course he’s still selfish in the end, but with good reason. He didn’t want to be a vampire, and when he found Elena, he finally had someone to fight for besides himself and Stefan. He was willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone, even if Stefan ended up doing it for him.
4. Jeremy Gilbert
Jeremy just wanted a normal life and as hard as Elena tried to give that to him, he got wrapped up in the supernatural. Lucky for her, he ended up being quite brave in his efforts to protect her and her friends. Pretty selfless dude throughout the series. A little upsetting that he was talking to his ghost exes while dating Bonnie, but I’ll give him a pass because he was still like 15.
5. Stefan Salvatore
If we are being honest here, Stefan overall was a pretty terrible person. He forced Damon to turn into a vampire, his ripper binges were pretty horrifying, and I’ll never forgive him for killing Enzo, even though his humanity was off. In spite of all of that, he worked hard to redeem himself and sacrificed himself to save all of Mystic Falls. Plus he saved Damon and gave him the human life he wanted with Elena, so he’s partially redeemed in my eyes.
6. Tyler Lockwood
I didn’t particularly like Tyler during the first season, primarily because, well, the whole near assault situation with Vicki. However, he really grew on me after he found out he was a werewolf. He grew up, apologized for his actions, and became a person. If I didn’t love Klaus as much as I do, I may have rooted for him and Caroline more. Being completely objective, he and Caroline were good for each other. But Klaroline forever!
7. Zack Salvatore
Zack didn’t do anything wrong. Poor guy just got in Damon’s way. I couldn’t find a reason to rank him any higher because even though he was a decent guy from what we saw, he bored me. In summary, he’s fine.
8. Klaus Mikaelson
Ah, Klaus. Klaus was the first really intimidating villain and the only one we got. I have so many favorite moments. When he possessed Alaric and said hello to Katherine, when he possessed Tyler and gave us our first real Klaroline moment, when he gave Caroline her dress for the ball, just *swoon.* Yes, he killed Jenna, and tried to kill Elena, but he was the only one of his kind for a thousand years and just wanted to feel like he belonged. There’s a reason why he got his own show after TVD. We love to hate him and hate to love him (Although I kind of love to love him).
9. Elijah Mikaelson
Elijah was such an interesting addition to the cast. He’s so formal and polite and it’s clear that he’s a thousand years old. His initial “death” by stake created yet another re-entrance scene where everyone is shocked to see someone didn’t die. I don’t love him as much as I love Klaus, but I find his loyalty to his brother admirable. Points were deducted because he dated Katherine. I will always swoon when he says “Katerina,” “Niklaus,” and “whatsoever” with his annunciated ‘h’ sound. Bless his strange mixed accent.
10. Luke Parker
So Luke wasn’t necessarily my favorite personality on the show, but he literally sacrificed himself to save his twin sister Liv in the most shocking moment of that season. Jo was supposed to verse Kai or Luke Liv, and instead he broke tradition to save his sisters. He knew there was no way he could win, and his sacrifice was admirable.
Harper seemed super logical while he was back in the real world. For those who don’t remember, he was one of the tomb vampires loyal to Anna’s mother Pearl. He was absolutely complicit in Stefan’s kidnapping, but he had literally been stuck in a tomb for 150 years, so I’ll give him a pass on that one. He was just trying to have a normal life when John Gilbert shot him with a stake. I would have liked to see his character develop as he got used to the modern world.
It’s sad that Beau didn’t get the love he deserved from the fan base. He’s heavily overlooked and he had so many positive moments. He was the first to acknowledge that Julian was a horrible monster and joined Valerie in her plan to kill him and he helped distract Caroline and Alaric’s twins when they were siphoning her magic and therefore slowly killing her. His death hit me pretty hard, as Rayna had destroyed his body so his soul could never return to it. Damon eventually killed him against Bonnie’s wishes when they found him inhabiting another body. It would have been nice to finally hear what he had to say now that he was in a body that could speak.
13. Aaron Whitmore
Oh my god, Aaron had it rough. Damon killed his entire family and left only him, as he vowed. He reacted better than anyone could have expected him to. He literally thought he was cursed and that he was to blame for everyone around him dying. He even stole the compound his uncle Wes was using to protect other vampires from having it used on them, even though Katherine got her hands on it anyways. Even though he provoked Damon by telling him he wasn’t good enough for Elena, he didn’t deserve to be fed on until his inevitable death.
14. Rudy Hopkins
He was introduced a little late, but Rudy was Bonnie’s father. From what we saw, he was looking out for Bonnie the best he could, considering she was supernatural and the majority of her friends were too. His death by the hands of Silas was unnecessary and shocking. Yet another heartbreaking moment for Bonnie. She deserved so much better.
Jesse did nothing wrong. He was turned by Wes and made into an Augustine vampire who fed on other vampires. Poor Caroline was just starting to get over Tyler and her first boyfriend in college tried to feed on Damon. Elena killing Jesse to save Damon made complete sense, but Caroline was completely correct when she told Elena how hypocritical it was. Jesse could have been helped, as made obvious when Elena and Damon were also injected with the compound. Jesse could have been a great addition to the cast for a season or two.
16. Dorian Williams
Poor Dorian was a victim of Stefan’s ripper days. Stefan slaughtered his family and compelled him to forget about the real cause of their deaths. After Stefan became human and everyone started remembering the truth, Dorian’s memories came back too and he angrily shot Stefan. Of course, he regretted it immediately and tried to save him. Shooting is not cool, but Dorian was just an angry victim. Sucks that he got wrapped up in all of the supernatural happenings.
17. Finn Mikaelson
Finn really just wanted to die. He thought he was a monster and that his siblings were too. Until he saw Sage again and had a change of heart, I was honestly on his side. He wanted to end the path of destruction caused by the Mikaelson siblings and he was tired after being daggered for centuries. Esther, their mother, had linked the siblings so they would all die at once. His eventual death during TVD was pretty useless, considering the siblings had been unlinked at that point and Finn was the only Mikaelson who hadn’t tried to kill any of the Mystic Falls gang. At least him dying gave us the knowledge that when an Original dies, so does their entire bloodline.
18. Matt Donovan
I thought Matt was pretty pathetic during the first season, if I’m being brutally honest. His puppy dog love for Elena got annoying really fast, but he improved gradually. After he found out Caroline was a vampire though, things really started to go downhill for our future Sherriff. I understand that it’s a huge shock to find out that you’re surrounded by supernaturals, but his attitude never improved. Up until the last second of the last episode, Matt Donovan was a douche-bag to all of his so-called friends. His hatred was worse than Bonnie’s in the first three seasons.
19. Peter Maxwell
Peter certainly wasn’t the most exciting character in TVD. We didn’t meet him until the eighth season, so there wasn’t much development on camera. What we know is that he left Vicki and Matt’s mother before Matt was born because he was ashamed of his life. By the time Matt encounters him again, he is ashamed of leaving his children and has his life together. He ended up being pretty good for Matt after he came back, but his confession to everyone that he was ashamed hurt. At least Peter was nicer to the supernaturals than his son.
20. Mason Lockwood
Yet another suitor for Katherine. You gotta give it to the girl, she’s amazing at leading men on. Overall, Mason was pathetic at best. I didn’t see him as a positive influence on Tyler whatsoever. The only good thing he did for Tyler was inform him of his werewolf gene. Outing the Salvatores was wrong, especially because he ended up outing his nephew’s close friend, Caroline, to her mother. His loyalty laid with Katherine and Katherine only, to the point where he would betray Tyler for her. Lame.
21. Bill Forbes
When I found out Bill Forbes was gay, I was so excited to see representation, but my excitement towards him ended there. His entrance was dramatic, he imprisoned his daughter and tried to condition her with sunlight. He redeemed himself a tiny bit when he tried to help Tyler break the sire bond. However, when he gets injured and is healed by vampire blood, Alaric kills him and he decides not to transition into a vampire. He hated vampires, what his daughter had become, so much that he decided to abandon her and his husband. Also lame. There was so much magic in Mystic Falls that they could have done something if they really wanted to.
22. Kol Mikaelson
Kol wasn’t on my radar at all when he arrived. He was simply another Mikaelson. But after we found out he had befriended Jeremy in Denver, all hell broke loose. He tried to prevent the gang from finding the cure by slowing down Jeremy’s attempts to grow his Hunter’s mark, tortured Damon, and forced him to go after Jeremy, attacked Bonnie, and was subsequently killed by Elena and Jeremy while Klaus watched. Pretty sucky for Klaus, but holy crap was he a pest for everyone living in Mystic Falls. His gloating about Jeremy’s death wasn’t anything surprising, and it was satisfying when he became trapped in the Other Side again.
23. Oscar Addams
Oscar was just a drunk. He was pretty useless and pretty boring. His body ended up just being a host for some other resurrected soul from the phoenix stone, so we didn’t learn too much about him besides his affinity for alcohol. Could have been a fun addition, but he’s nothing I dream about.
We don’t know much about Malcolm either, besides that he is a heretic and Lily Salvatore’s favorite. He didn’t seem that special, and he killed a homeless man, which led to his death at the hands of Bonnie and Damon. Altogether not the worst character, but certainly not worthy of a higher placement.
25. Jonas Martin
Thinking back, Jonas and Luka’s story is pretty sad. Jonas believed his daughter was kidnapped by Klaus, to be used for her powers in order to break his hybrid curse. However, she seemed pretty willing to do the spell to me. She even turned Jenna. He thought he was doing what was best for his daughter by helping Elijah. He took away Bonnie’s magic for a bit (uncool), but gave it back to her right before his death (cool). He was fine.
26. Luka Martin
Luka pulling the dagger out of Elijah and waking him up slowly was agonizing to watch while I was still afraid of Elijah. This was before we knew how awesome he was, so Luka seemed pretty stupid, even if he was trying to help his sister. His burning to death was a little traumatic, but magically appearing in someone’s house and attempting to wake a thousand-year-old vampire is a surefire way to get yourself killed. Sucks to be him, I guess?
27. Liam Davis
Liam was too cocky for how useless he was. He was a scaredy-cat and I really just wanted Elena to remember Damon already so I think that may have fed into my hatred of Liam a little. At least he was smart.
28. Galen Vaughn
Oh my god, another associate of Katherine. One of a different nature for a change, but nevertheless another soldier in her seemingly endless army. Galen’s attitude about wanting to use the cure on Silas wasn’t really his fault, since as a hunter, it was in his nature, but that didn’t stop me from hating him. His working with Katherine brought the death of Jeremy (which was horrifying because this time it was real), his hunter nature led him to shoot Damon with werewolf venom laced bullets, and jeez, if he wasn’t Scottish, he would have been lower on this list.
29. Logan Fell
Logan truly had some nice cheekbones, but that doesn’t mean I forgive him. He left Jenna, twice, kidnapped Caroline, and wanted to break open the vampire tomb. As much as I wanted the drama that came with Katherine, I didn’t want Logan to be the one to get the credit for opening the tomb. Plus, Alaric killing Logan showed how much he liked Jenna and made me respect him even more. Logan Fell, everyone. Boosting other characters up the list like nobody’s business.
30. Richard Lockwood
Mayor Lockwood was all about appearances and even though I wasn’t a fan of Tyler in the first season, I understood why he was so terrible. He said some pretty nasty things and was obsessed with killing the vampires of the town, ironically the cause of his own demise. Since he was a potential werewolf, he ended up stuck in the burning basement with the vampires. He was not a character I missed.
31. John Gilbert
Ugh. John had some good moments I guess, the major one being when he sacrificed himself to bring Elena back to life. But besides that, he was mostly pathetic and creepy. He was the reason Anna was captured and he staked her, which I am still mad about. I did appreciate him coming back to life at the Founder’s Day party and walking past Damon as if nothing had happened. Very dramatic.
32. Connor Jordan
Another hunter, and it isn’t his fault that he’s the way he is, but he did some real damage. He used April in order to lure out vampires, which was completely uncool. Stabbing people is not okay! I was pretty excited when Elena killed him, but then she went insane. Yeah, I don’t have anything good to say about him.
33. Kai Parker
Kai Parker? 33? I know, but hear me out. He may be a literal psychopath but the entertainment he provided us was phenomenal. TVD was starting to go a little downhill and then they gave us this brilliant man. I am still fuming that he killed Jo, but when he and Bonnie argued it was great. After he absorbed Luke, I continued to be entertained when watching him grapple with real feelings. Also easy on the eyes…
34. Tripp Cooke
Another Fell! This one was a vampire hunter because his wife was killed. Pretty common thread for TVD. He was more aware than the other founding family members, but still pretty oblivious overall. He kidnapped and tortured Enzo, which at least showed Enzo who his allies were. Meaning they only came to his rescue because Tripp knew Caroline was a vampire. Turning Tripp into a vampire and sending him over the town border was a fitting revenge.
First of all, I would have loved to see more of Silas and Amara. Second of all, he killed Bonnie, Bonnie’s father, Jeremy, and Matt. He really went through the town. Also the whole ‘pushing Stefan into a coffin and tossing him into a lake for three months’ thing. And then the issue of his girlfriend wanting to die already, so he tried to destroy the Other Side so they could be at peace. I really thought Bonnie was going to be gone forever because of him. He did a lot of damage to a lot of people in two seasons. Solid villain, but nothing as impressive as Klaus or Kai.
I think my problem with Markos was that I didn’t care. He was overhyped and underwhelming as a villain. He didn’t do much and he just vanished with the Traveler storyline. I never really understood why they were included.
37. Atticus Shane
Atticus was creepy. He led Bonnie on with magic lessons that led her to be out of control, him being the only one that can help her. He basically trapped her so that she had no choice but to work with him. He was pretty much insane, seeing as he never even spoke to his wife, but to Silas pretending to be her. He killed a TON of people in an effort to raise Silas based on empty promises to revive everyone. Stefan was right to leave him to die on the island. He did not deserve to be healed after everything he had done.
38. Wes Maxfield
First of all, this man was creepy as all hell. I never had any hope for him, mostly because he tortured our precious Damon and Enzo, but also just because of the general creepiness. I know it was a family business or whatever, but come on! Torturing supernatural creatures at no point seemed messed up to him?! Scientific research be damned if you are literally scooping out their eyeballs and injecting them with torture serum. Nope. Not for me.
Trying to kill the child you had been raising once you find he’s illegitimate is just not okay. That was a fun sentence. Killing said child’s father for having an affair with your wife is also not okay. Plus killing that father started a war that continues throughout The Originals. Mikael is pretty much complete trash, but as far as we know he didn’t kill any children so he’s pretty high up on the list for someone with pretty much no redeemability. Hunting your children, no matter how much they terrorize the Mystic Falls gang, is not cool. Plus I was genuinely starting to enjoy having the Mikaelsons around full time when he was resurrected.
Okay, so I feel like this placement should be pretty obvious, considering Cade is the literal devil. Obviously, he’s manipulative and he pretty much just lets everyone above ground do his dirty work. He was also another victim of Katherine’s manipulation. How he let her become the “queen of hell” is beyond me. He’s supposed to be a psychic. He earns placement higher than Julian because he didn’t kill an unborn child, and it was extremely satisfying to watch Sybil and Seline burn at his hand.
I literally can’t think of any character in TVD who is more trash than Julian. He was a manipulator and beat Valerie until he caused her to miscarry. Wait, nope, nevermind. He’s the trashiest of all of the trash.