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Why The Vampire Diaries Fans Are So Divided About Elena

In 2009, a year after the release of the vampire romance "Twilight," The CW embraced the fang-worthy frenzy with "The Vampire Diaries." Adapted from L.J. Smith's book series of the same name, the show introduced viewers to the ominous, yet strangely alluring town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. For the majority of its run, "The Vampire Diaries" centered on Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a high school student, as she unexpectedly stumbled into the dark underbelly of the town's supernatural history. During this time, she found herself entangled in a tortured love triangle with the Salvatore brothers, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder). For years, fans tracked the flux of Elena's relationships, often passionately debating whether or not she should ultimately choose the broody Damon or the benevolent Stefan (via TVLine).

Throughout "The Vampire Diaries," critics and fans alike celebrated the chemistry among its leads, citing their emotional electricity as the enduring reason why the series found success (via E! Online). As one reviewer noted, the series "told a beautifully balanced, perfectly paced story about a human girl torn between two very different vampire brothers ... and for viewers, it was one of the best love triangles TV had ever seen" (via Entertainment Weekly). 

Moreover, the show notably leaned into the heightened drama of its plotlines, following Elena as she battled invincible vampires, evil doppelgängers, and wrathful werewolves. As the protagonist, her actions frequently received both praise and condemnation from fans. In this way, it has become all too clear that not all viewers harbor the same opinions of leading lady Elena Gilbert.

Some fans find Elena self-absorbed, while others argue she's selfless

In a Reddit thread dedicated to the "The Vampire Diaries," the original poster shared a screenshot depicting a moment between Elena and recurring character Rebekah Mikaelson (Claire Holt). In this scene, the immortal Rebekah disdainfully says, "Get over yourself, Elena. It's not all about you." The same user captioned the photo, writing, "I love Elena but this is me throughout the whole show."

Other Redditors agreed with the sentiment, pointing out that Elena often tried to make every life-or-death situation about herself, regardless of whether or not she truly needed to insert herself into the impending conflict. As u/naseemav99 observed, "She also likes to play the victim a lot." u/not_thereal_leon seconded the comment, adding, "She always thinks everything is about her. It's extremely annoying...I can't stand her whining."

However, other users disagreed with the assertion that Elena could be selfish, arguing that she usually fought to save those closest to her –- and tried not to be a burden on her family and friends. According to u/cicigal8, [S]he was fully ready to risk her own life to save them too. [S]he also asked them several times to stop risking their necks for her." u/kay278 concurred, adding, "I never really saw Elena actively making things about her. The other characters did ALL the time without any influence from Elena herself at all..." Another Redditor, u/RominaGoldie, similarly defended Elena's actions, writing, "Her character anchors the show in human emotions like passion, tenderness, grief, excitement, love, competition, forgiveness."

As a result, while fans will likely remain divided on Elena's evolution throughout the series, it is arguably clear that –- for better or worse –- she left her mark on "The Vampire Diaries."