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The Vampire Diaries Universe Timeline Explained

In September 2009, when Twilight took the world by storm and vampires were more swoon-worthy than scary, another paranormal romance series debuted on the CW. The Vampire Diaries introduced audiences to Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who, after the death of her parents, finds herself in a love triangle with two dashing vampires: Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and his older brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder). The series, based on the popular YA novels by L.J Smith, became a hit with fans, as it introduced new supernatural creatures and characters each season.

In 2013, the show's universe extended when TVD characters Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and Rebekah (Claire Holt) relocated to New Orleans, where they battled for rulership of the French Quarter on their spin-off show, The Originals. A third installment to the universe was added in 2018 with the debut of Legacies, which takes place at the Salvatore Boarding House and stars Klaus' daughter, Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell).

As the franchise grew, so did its lore and mythology. The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Legacies feature lengthy rosters of centuries-old immortals. The series has an intricate history stemming all the way from 750 B.C. to the year 2028. Get oriented with this guide to The Vampire Diaries' chronology

The Sirens were created in 750 B.C.

Season 8 of The Vampire Diaries filled in a lot of backstory. Around 2200 B.C., a powerful psychic named Arcadius (aka Cade) became a beloved member of his village. His ability to read thoughts made him empathetic, and, for a while, he used his powers to heal people, though his good deeds were rejected. Cade reached out to one of the village leaders after overhearing his predatory thoughts towards young girls; he and the rest of the villagers turned on Cade and burned him at the stake. In his agony, Cade emitted a psychic blast that created hell. Thereafter he collected the souls of sinful people, dragging them to hell to face punishment.

In 750 B.C., another psychic reached out to Arcadius to save her sister's life. Seline and Sybil were exiled to an island when their abilities were discovered. The girls lured sailors to the island for sustenance; Seline lied to Sybil to get her to eat human meat, their only option. When Sybil discovered the truth, she attempted suicide. To save her sister, Seline called out to Cade and begged him for help, whatever the price. Cade agreed. The two girls became the Sirens, immortal creatures damned to feast on the flesh of the guilty in hell.

2,000 years ago in Ancient Greece, Qetsiyah created the Other Side

In season 5, we learned that sometime during the 1st century B.C., another supernatural being created a dimension of the afterlife. Qetsiyah (Janina Gavankar) and Silas (also played by Paul Wesley), two powerful witches and ancestors of the Bennett and Salvatore families, created an immortality elixir to drink at their wedding. Silas betrayed Qetsiyah, however, and stole the elixir for himself and his true love, Amara (also played by Nina Dobrev). Heartbroken, Qetsiyah condemned Amara to immortal life locked in stone as the anchor to the Other Side, a purgatory she created for supernatural entities. Silas was imprisoned along with the cure for immortality. Qetsiyah intended for Silas to take the cure and reunite with her on the Other Side. Silas refused and desiccated instead.

Their actions had consequences. Nature rebelled against Amara and Silas' newfound immortality and created the Salvatore and Petrova doppelgängers, versions of their original ancestors capable of dying. Meanwhile, Qetsiyah was killed by fellow witches for creating the immortality elixir. Her line and Silas' were cursed to live nomadic lives forbidden from settling, becoming the first Travelers.

In the 5th century A.D., the Hollow created the werewolf species

In season 4 of The Originals, audiences learned of a powerful supernatural being born in the 5th century A.D. The marriage of two powerful Native American witches brought covens together after years of war. Their unborn child was blessed with power by the Elders for nine months. This turned out to be a fatal mistake; when Inadu (Blu Hunt), aka the Hollow, was born, her thirst for power knew no boundaries. The Hollow's power devastated her people, and soon the Elders and the rest of the tribe were forced to take action against her.

The coven attacked Inadu with wolves before killing her with a magical ax, ending her reign of terror. The Hollow had one last trick up her sleeve, however. At the moment of her death, Inadu cursed all of the witches to transform into wolves at every full moon. The cursed tribe became the first werewolves — including Inadu's mother, whose crescent birthmark defined her as the first member of the Labonair bloodline and a sire of Hayley Marshall (Phoebe Tonkin) and Hope Mikaelson. The Hollow's spirit was later confined by the ancestral witches of New Orleans before being destroyed for good by Klaus.

In 1001 A.D., the Original family became vampires

Not long after, another witch created a supernatural species, setting the events of The Vampire Diaries universe in motion. Esther Mikaelson (Alice Evans) initially resented her Viking husband/captor Mikael, but soon warmed to him, prompting her to turn her back on her sister, Dahlia (Claudia Black), and their magical lineage. In recompense, and as a price for helping Esther with a fertility spell, Dahlia took Esther and Mikael's eldest child, Freya. The sisters parted ways for the next thousand years.

After that, the Mikaelsons fled to the New World, where they settled in a werewolf village that later became Mystic Falls. The Original family lived peacefully until 1001 A.D., when their youngest son, Henrik, was killed by a werewolf. Fearing for their children's safety, Esther and Mikael turned to magic. Using the blood of Tatia Petrova, another doppelgänger descendant of Amara's, Esther cast an alternative immortality spell that turned her children into the first vampires. Klaus, Elijah, Rebekah, Finn (Casper Zafer), and Kol (Nathaniel Buzolic in TVD; Daniel Sharman in The Originals) were gifted with incredible abilities — but vampirism has drawbacks, and Nature soon rejected them. The truth of Klaus' parentage was revealed when he transformed into a werewolf following his first kill. Esther bound Klaus' werewolf side, causing Klaus to murder his mother. Afterward, the siblings vowed to stay together "always and forever" as they fled from Mikael, who became a vampire to hunt them down. Klaus blamed his stepfather for Esther's death.

The Originals encountered the Brotherhood of the Five in 1114 A.D.

After a century spent traveling throughout Europe, the Originals journeyed to Italy, where they met another powerful supernatural faction. The Brotherhood of the Five was created in 1100 A.D., when a descendant of Qetsiyah performed a spell that gave five men the ability to hunt vampires. Along with superhuman strength and speed, the hunters gained a mystical tattoo across their arms and chest that would, in the future, become visible only to other hunters. The tattoo contained the map to Silas' tomb, as well as the cure for immortality.

In 1114, the Originals crossed paths with the Five when Rebekah fell in love with a hunter named Alexander (Paul Telfer). The vampires believed themselves safe from the Five's detection with rings that allowed them to move in the daylight, but they were mistaken. Alexander neutralized Rebekah with a silver dagger while his brothers ambushed the other Originals. Klaus was unaffected due to his werewolf lineage. The Original hybrid killed Alexander and the other hunters, though was later plagued by the Hunter's Curse for 52 years.

Katerina Petrova fled to England in 1492

The Originals grew more ruthless throughout the following centuries. In 1492, Klaus and Elijah met Katerina Petrova, another doppelgänger descended from Amara and Tatia, and the future sire of Damon and Stefan Salvatore. Katerina was forced to flee from her home and family in Bulgaria after giving birth to a daughter out of wedlock (her daughter, Nadia, reunited with her as a vampire in season 5 of The Vampire Diaries). In England, Katerina encountered Klaus and Elijah, who recognized her instantly. Elijah fell in love with Katerina, though his brother made it clear he intended to sacrifice her to break his hybrid curse. In the end, Katerina "betrayed" them both by fleeing.

With the help of Trevor (Trent Ford), another vampire, Katerina escaped with the moonstone and met Rose (The Walking Dead's Lauren Cohan). Rose intended to hand Katerina back to Klaus, fearful of his wrath, but the doppelgänger had other ideas. She tricked Rose into giving her vampire blood before killing herself, triggering her transformation into the undead. Now a vampire, Katerina changed her name to Katherine Pierce and fled once more, spending the next 500 years running from Klaus. Klaus murdered her family for her actions.

The Original family moved to New Orleans in 1702

In The Originals, audiences learned that in 1702, the Original siblings fled from their father once more. Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah, along with the daggered bodies of Kol and Finn, boarded a ship to the New World, where they made port in New Orleans. The Originals built a home there, aiding in the city's creation and becoming powerful, respected rulers. In 1820, Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah met Marcel (Charles Michael Davis). An illegitimate son of the Governor, Marcel impressed Klaus, who took him under his wing and raised him as a son.

Marcel grew close to the Originals, and later asked Klaus to turn him into a vampire. Rebekah and Marcel fell in love, causing Klaus to dagger Rebekah in 1835. Klaus then forced Marcel to choose between human life with Rebekah or becoming a vampire. Marcel chose the latter. The Originals' time in New Orleans abruptly ended in 1919. Tired of living under Klaus' control, Marcel and Rebekah summoned Mikael to New Orleans. Mikael's fiery wrath consumed the city. The Originals fled again, leaving New Orleans in Marcel's hands.

In 1864, Katherine turned Damon and Stefan Salvatore into vampires

Following centuries on the run, Katherine Pierce settled in Mystic Falls, already home to vampires Pearl (Kelly Hu) and Anna (Malese Jow). Masquerading as an orphan, Katherine was given shelter with the Salvatores, where she began relationships with Stefan and Damon. Both brothers fell in love with her, though only Damon accepted her vampirism.

Katherine's stay in Mystic Falls ended on Sept. 25, 1864, when the Founding Families rounded up the town's vampires to burn them in Fell's Church. Thanks to Emily Bennett, the vampires were protected from the fire, even though they were sealed in a tomb to desiccate. Meanwhile, Damon and Stefan attempted to rescue Katherine. The brothers were shot by their father, Giuseppe (William James Remar), and died with Katherine's blood in their system. Unbeknownst to both, Katherine escaped the inferno she orchestrated to trick Klaus into believing she was dead. Stefan convinced Damon to complete his transition after he fed on a human for the first time. The brothers parted ways a year later.

Stefan met Klaus and Rebekah in 1922

A humanity-less Stefan traveled to Chicago in 1922, where he met Klaus and Rebekah for the first time. Klaus and Stefan instantly hit it off, becoming as close as brothers. The hybrid admired Ripper Stefan's vicious tenacity and ability to torment his victims, while Rebekah and Stefan quickly became enamored with each other. Rebekah gave her mother's necklace to Stefan, which he later laced with vervain and gave to Elena Gilbert in 2009. The trio enjoyed a wild blood binge together until Mikael once again caught up to his children. The Chicago Police Department attacked Gloria's bar with wooden bullets, prompting the Originals to flee again. Klaus compelled Stefan to forget about him and Rebekah, and daggered his sister when she declared her intent to flee with Stefan. Unbeknownst to the trio, a disguised Katherine Pierce watched them nearby.

Damon was captured by the Augustine Society in 1953

Damon Salvatore returned to Mystic Falls in 1953 only to fall into the Augustine Society's clutches. Damon's relative Joseph Salvatore handed him over to Dr. Whitmore (Shaun Sipos, also of Syfy's Krypton) after slipping him vervain. Dr. Whitmore subjected Damon to brutal torture with his "experiments." During his imprisonment, Damon met another captive vampire named Enzo St. John (Michael Malarkey). They made a deal: one vampire would sacrifice his blood ration so the other could grow strong enough to escape.

In 1958, Damon escaped when Dr.Whitmore released him from his cage during a New Year's Eve party for the Augustines. Damon slaughtered the Augustine Society, accidentally starting a fire in the process. Although he tried to break Enzo free, the vervain on the cage doors, coupled with the growing blaze, proved too much to overcome. Damon abandoned his friend, turning off his humanity to avoid feeling the guilt from his betrayal.

Lexi tried to talk sense into Damon during 1977

Damon's bloody path leads him to New York in 1977, where he encountered his brother's best friend Lexi (Arielle Kebbel). Lexi tried to convince Damon to turn his humanity on, as she did with Stefan years ago. Damon, however, had other ideas. The two partied together for months while Damon pretended to fall in love with Lexi, emotionally manipulating the older vampire into giving in to her wild side. After a night of passion on a rooftop though, Damon betrayed her by stealing her daylight ring, leaving her to hide from the sunlight as he mocks her in farewell.

The Gemini coven imprisoned Kai in 1994

In 1994, the Gemini coven was torn apart by tragedy when Malachai (Kai) Parker (Chris Wood, also of Supergirl) made it his mission to murder his siblings and absorb his sister Jo's (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) power. Kai discovered that his parents were unwilling to let their twins perform the Merge ceremony due to Kai being a Siphoner, along with his mental instability. In retaliation, Kai slaughtered four of his siblings as he sought to kill his parents' younger twins. To stop him, his father, Joshua (Danny Gerard), and the rest of the Gemini coven agreed to let Kai perform the Merge with Jo — only to turn on him instead. The Gemini coven used a spell created by the Bennett family to imprison Kai in an alternative prison world, cursed to repeat the same day on loop, using the Ascendant and the power of a solar eclipse.

Elena Gilbert's parents died in May in 2009

On May 23, 2009, a fateful night changed Elena Gilbert's life forever. Elena argued with her boyfriend, Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig), leading to her leaving a party and meeting Damon Salvatore for the first time while waiting for a ride home from her parents. Damon initially believed Elena to be Katherine, though he soon realized the truth. The two shared a tender moment before he compelled her to forget their fateful encounter. Later that night, tragedy struck the Gilbert family when Elena's parents crashed their car into the watery depths beneath Wickery Bridge. An unconscious Elena was rescued by Stefan. Unfortunately, Stefan was unable to save her parents, who perished in the accident

In September 2009, Elena met Stefan

Five months later, Elena met Stefan officially during the first day of school at Mystic Falls High. The younger Salvatore brother, entranced by Elena and her resemblance to Katherine, enrolled at the same school to get to know her better. Elena and Stefan fell in love despite the numerous obstacles thrown their way (most notably Stefan's older brother, Damon, and the entombed vampires beneath Fell's Church).

Stefan and Elena's relationship stood strong despite everything The Vampire Diaries threw at them, like Stefan's vampirism and the plentiful supernatural threats drawn to Mystic Falls throughout the series. Elena and Stefan broke up in late 2010 after she became a vampire and was inadvertently sired to Damon. Elena fell in love with Damon thereafter, and Stefan pursued a relationship with his friend Caroline Forbes (Candice King).

In March 2017, Stefan awakened Damon

Elena's character left the story in 2015 due to actress Nina Dobrev's exit from The Vampire Diaries. Her character was cursed by Kai to remain unconscious in a coma until Bonnie dies, leaving the rest of the Mystic Falls gang to struggle without her. Damon decided to desiccate himself not long after, but was awakened by his brother in 2017. Together, Damon and Stefan fled from Rayna Cruz, a vampire hunter who wielded the Phoenix Stone, before later encountering the Sirens when Sybil was released from the Armory's vault. Damon eventually reunited with Elena when she awakened from her enchanted coma in TVD's series finale, "I Was Feeling Epic."

Klaus and Elijah die in 2026

In 2026, the long lives of Klaus and Elijah Mikaelson come to an end at last. The Originals sacrifice nearly everything they have to defeat the Hollow, including containing an essence of her spirit and remaining apart for seven years to weaken her. In the end, though, Klaus has to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his daughter, Hope. He absorbs the Hollow's essence before dying to defeat her. Elijah chooses to die by his brother's side, and the two stake themselves to death, finally destroying the Hollow. Rebekah and Marcel reunite, and Hope returns to the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted.

Two years later, the events of Legacies begin

Hope Mikaelson takes center stage throughout Legacies, where she stars alongside The Vampire Diaries' Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis) and other supernatural characters, including Alaric and Caroline's grown-up twins Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) and Josie (Kaylee Bryant). Danielle Rose Russell returns as the character she played in season 5 of The Originals. Throughout Legacies, Hope faces a multitude of magical threats as she navigates adolescence as a "tribrid" (witch-werewolf-vampire hybrid) and the legacy of being Klaus Mikaelson's daughter. Legacies was renewed by the CW for its fourth season in February 2021, and is expected to air late fall/winter, so expect the timeline to keep expanding.