Mar 14 2017 3:30pm

“Hello, Brother”: The Vampire Diaries Series Finale Brings Damon, Stefan, and Elena Full Circle

Saying Goodbye to The Vampire Diaries...

When The Vampire Diaries premiered on September 10, 2009, I had no idea what to expect. Lots of sexy hookups and action shots? Probably. The promotions leading up to the event - specifically posters of a gorgeous brunette flanked by two chiseled hunks—did little to dissuade my opinion, and I figured that, like most teen dramas on the CW, The Vampire Diaries would fall under the “guilty pleasure” television category. 

Oh how wrong I was...

Thanks to a bevy of explosive cliff-hangers (“hello, John; goodbye, John”), complex antiheroes (two words: Klaus Mikaelson), and witty one-liners that packed plenty of bite (snarky Damon forever), The Vampire Diaries never failed to entertain me over the course of eight glorious seasons. But as much as I relished all the decade dances, swoonworthy declarations of love, and constant references to Stefan's “Hero Hair,” The Vampire Diaries' poignant exploration of the transformative nature of grief remains its greatest strength for me. Even when the usually fast-paced storylines started to get bogged down by convoluted mythology and plot holes emerged, when vengeful monsters ran amok and Matt Donovan suddenly became the only non-mystical person left, one thing always resonated with me: TVD's ability to delve into the most somber aspects of the human experience and turn them into stories that inspire and engage.

You see, although heavily advertised as a series about beautiful people stuck in a tumultuous love triangle, TVD had so many more profound layers to it. While the various romances (Delena, Stelena, Klaroline, Forwood, Steroline, Bonenzo, Beremy - just to name a few) and the complicated dynamic between the Salvatore brothers certainly played a huge role in the show's appeal, at the core of it all was a story about loss and perseverance. From the very beginning, in which we meet Elena Gilbert, a young girl eager to achieve a sense of normalcy after the tragic deaths of her parents, that much is evident. While she paints on a bright smile for her friends and teachers and tries to convince herself that “today will be different,” she finds solace in the solitude of her local cemetery, where she sneaks off to scribble in her journal and ruminate about her melancholic existence in this brave, new world. What Elena doesn't quite grasp yet in the pilot—she later realizes it in episode 3x14, “Our Town”—is that there's no going back to the life she once knew; the car crash that occurred on Wickery Bridge that fateful night, along with the mourning period that followed, has reshaped her journey and the only way to heal was to move forward.

Source: thepromisethatlovecouldbeeternal.tumblr.com

And because nobody—including seemingly immortal beings in a high-stakes environment—is immune to death, our beloved doppelganger wasn't the only character who suffered immense heartache over the years. I wept as Caroline watched her mom and dad wither away; my blood ran cold at the sight of Alaric cradling the body of his murdered bride, Jo, at the altar, right after her sociopathic twin brother destroyed their dream of a happily-ever-after; and chills erupted all over me when Bonnie, after witnessing Stefan kill Enzo, released a scream of anguish so potent and raw, she created an alternate dimension. Then, just when I thought TVD couldn't wreak any more havoc on my emotions, it performed perhaps the cruelest act of all: having Stefan, freshly human and married, sacrifice himself to help save his hometown of Mystic Falls—and give his brother, whom he condemned to a lifetime of misery many moons ago when he talked him into transitioning into a vampire, a shot at happiness with Elena, and a chance to show everyone that he was “the better man.” At that point, I wished for nothing more than the ability to turn off my humanity switch and numb myself to the pain. 

That being said, even in moments of terror, agony, and soul-crushing defeat, the residents of Mystic Falls always managed to pick themselves up, wipe away their tears, and muster the necessary courage to power on. Why? Because they trusted in their own resilience. Because they understood that as much as it hurts, it is better to confront your grief instead of burying it deep inside you to fester like an open wound. Because, like so many of us, they longed to find light amidst the darkness—which makes TVD's conclusion all that more meaningful.

The show, which took a bow on Friday, March 10, ended on such an uplifting note, that I had to rewatch the final montage several times just to let its impact fully sink in. Every second of it struck the perfect sentimental chord—a joyful one tinged with the undeniable sense of sorrow that tends to accompany farewells. From Sheriff Forbes looking on with pride as Caroline opened a school for children with special abilities to Tyler and Vicki watching from afar as Matt contemplated running for mayor and received a park bench in his honor; from Jo glowing at the sight of Alaric playing with their adorable daughters to Enzo standing guard over Bonnie as she took his advice about chasing adventure to heart and traveled the world; from Stefan fulfilling his death pact with Lexi to Elena becoming a doctor, growing old with Damon, and reuniting with her family—including Aunt Jenna, Uncle John, and her parents, Miranda and Grayson—in TVD's version of the afterlife, it was comforting to observe the culmination of their personal growth and sacrifices.

Source: thepromisethatlovecanbeeternal.tumblr.com

As for Damon? Despite worrying that he'd never be able to atone for his sins and see Stefan again, he ultimately returned home and squeezed his little brother into a tight hug. So for a show that launched on the premise of grief and the toll it takes on those left behind, its departing message was as powerful as it was gratifying: while it can occasionally suck at times, if you live the best life you can, you will find peace. 

“Hello, brother” just became the new goodbye. How's that for full circle?

Did The Vampire Diaries series finale live up to your expectations or was it a letdown? What were some of your favorite scenes from “I Was Feeling Epic”? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below!

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Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars pundit by profession, Theo enjoys freshly brewed iced tea, Greek poetry, and Whedonverse. A conspiracy theorist at heart, she’s constantly on the look-out for horcruxes and is still trying to make sense of Lost Season 6. Follow her musings on entertainment at @theodorag13.

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Elizabeth Poteet
1. ElizabethPoteet
This was a Must Watch TV for me for seasons, but time--and the sometimes silly storylines -- pulled me away from the show. However, even though I rarely knew what was going on, I'd return to Mystic Falls for an episode or two every season, so of course I had to watch the finale. Some of the newer threads didn't really hit home with me -- where did those children come from?!? Why is Vicki ringing a big bell? What did Matt do to his hair? I don't like it-- but the ending was just what I wanted. Seeing Grams again made me cry. Seeing Lexi made me smile. I had the thought: huh where is hot werewolf Tyler now?

What I feel a finale should be.
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
@ElizabethPoteet -- I used to ship Caroline/Tyler back in the day, so yeahhhhh, definitely not the finale for me. Caroline's ending depressed the hell out of me, not least because I hate Klaus and did not appreciate his note or the commentary about it. At. All.

I did like Damon and Elena's endings, though. It's where I felt it would head since the show first started, just based on LJ Smith's other book series.
Susan White
3. whiskeywhite
Elena's return from her 'big sleep' and her happily ever after were pretty predictable. Damon as a human -- a bit less so. A human Damon would probably be kind of boring. But good on them, as they would say in some parts. Stefan's final self sacrifice was less predictable, but in line with his character.

It was nice to see Bonnie determined to live a full life -- so much about her story line over the years was sacrificing for others. I hope that Damon and 'Bon Bon' can continue their friendship. Perhaps Damon can help with Caroline's school -- teaching the kids how not to behave illustrated with his life experiences.

I was pleased to see Alaric there to the end -- there was a time I figured he was toast, and I always liked him a lot. It was heart warming to see a lot of the old characters return, however briefly. I was particularly excited to see Lexi, whom I adored.

All in all, I enjoyed it.
4. Barbk
I cried. I believe we might see Caroline on the Originals. I just didn't understand the end. Where Damon goes to his brother and Elena goes to her family. Was they dead and went their separate ways after all they had been through to be together.
Heather Waters
5. HeatherWaters
@whiskeywhite -- I think the predictable part is at least partly due to the fact that this was clearly how their story was always supposed to end and it should have happened YEARS ago. At least, that's how I felt watching the finale, because except for a very few things (Caroline's girls, which was written in because the actress was pregnant, and Tyler's death) I was able to follow along perfectly well despite having quit the show 4 years ago.

@Barbk -- Yes, I think the very end is Damon and Elena reuniting with their families in the afterlife. I bet they got to be together in the afterlife too, it was just important to show their reunions with their families first.
Sherily Toledo
6. LCKnicks
I did enjoy the series finale. I cried so much. It was very touching.
There were a couple of things I did not quite get or like tho.
1. I thought whom ever gets the cure would age quickly and die like Catherine did. Being that Elena was only a vampire a year or 2 I figured it wouldn't affect her the same way. Wasn't that also what Stefan was trying to say when he spoke with Elena, he was going to age and die. So if he gave the cure to Damon, how was Damon able to live long as a human and not age quickly and die like Catherine?
2. It was all very touching. Seeing Caroline's mom watching over her and feeling pride. Alaric's wife watching over him and the girls. Tyler back with Vicky. Great ending for Matt. Bonnie traveling around the world and still having Enzo by her side in a matter of speaking. I also loved that Klaus sent that note and donation to Caroline. I really look forward to seeing her in The Originals. Perhaps the twins (witch sisters) will also make their appearance along with Alaric. So I'm glad they left that option open for the future. Perhaps even Bonnie since she will be traveling as well.
3. I was so looking forward to seeing the reunion with Elena and Damon. I was dissappointed with thier reunion. That quick tap kiss was so dissappointing. I expected to see years of lost passion reignited by their reunion. I think the kiss should have been more intimate and a lot longer than that 2 second tap kiss. I mean, their first ever kiss had more passion than this reunion kiss. It lacked passion and therefore I didn't feel the tears and emotions as strongly as if they would have been, had that reunion kiss been more EPIC! Also, the hand holding at the end too. Again, there was no hello kiss. They just went straight into holding hands. That was weak to me lol. They were supposed to be the EPIC LOVE STORY!
4. What was the black crow doing back? From the very beginning with the black crow I always thought that was Damon's pet or something. Never saw that crow in years and now it is back. What did that crow represent?
Overall, I loved TVD all these years and I will miss all these wonderful characters that have filled many voids in my life. I am glad they made everyone's endings happy and fullfilling.
They did do a great job of recapping and concluding every characters ending. Even the characters that were dead. It was great to see a better afterlife for both Salvator brothers. They both believed they were doomed for hell and it gave hope to all that there is redemption.
Also love the "Hello Brother" ending. Definitely came full circle with those words. Those words always touched the heart every time they were said, no matter what episode. Touching to see those brothers hugging & being together again at the end.
TVD show will be greatly missed. All those characters will be missed. Hope to see the remaining survivors again in the future.
Really going to miss those sexy Salvatore brothers <3
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