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Vampire Diaries' 7 Best And 7 Worst Episodes Ranked

For eight years, eight seasons, and 171 episodes, "The Vampire Diaries" had avid fans tuning in on the CW to immerse themselves in teenage vampire drama. Now the show is streaming on Netflix, where fans can rewatch or finally introduce themselves to Stefan (Paul Wesley), Damon (Ian Somerhalder), Elena (Nina Dobrev), Bonnie (Kat Graham), Caroline (Candice Accola), Tyler (Michael Trevino), Matt (Zach Roerig), Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) and the rest of the supernatural friends as they navigate growing up while constantly being put into life-threatening situations.

But how does one pick the best and worst episodes out of 171? There are tragic deaths, heartfelt moments, cinematic reveals, and everything in between, contributing to the reasons fans are overwhelmed with love and nostalgia for this show. Choosing just a few selections was a daunting task, but we used IMDb ratings and opinion to create a list of episodes to love, and episodes to avoid.

Calling all Delena shippers, aspiring witches, and everyone else "sired" to the show: here are the seven worst and seven best episodes of "The Vampire Diaries," ranked.

Worst: Bring It On

The best of the worst episodes is "Bring It On" (Season 4, Episode 16). At face value, the episode doesn't have a lot wrong with it. But what earned it a 7.6 rating on IMDb is the favoring of "The Originals" characters over the ones we love, as well as the frustration surrounding Elena's lack of humanity.

"Bring It On" comes after Jeremy dies and Elena (Nina Dobrev) switches off her humanity. Though this breaks her sire bond to Damon, it also causes her to be a liability to the rest of the vampires trying to remain inconspicuous. Elena attacks a cheerleader, screws up the cheer routine, throws a party at Stefan and Damon's house, and even assaults Liz (Marguerite MacIntyre). Meanwhile, Caroline and Stefan try to get Elena's humanity back and Damon searches for Katherine (also Dobrev) and the cure for vampirism for Elena. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Rebekah (Claire Holt) look for the cure too, and Klaus questions Hayley about Katherine's whereabouts.

This episode is a nice break from the constant heroine-nature of Elena. Though the characters still revolve around her and trying to get her humanity back, it's less "poor Elena" and more love-despite-exasperation. However, any positive feelings about Elena's lack of humanity is countered with the frustration of watching her make poor and reckless decisions that put everyone at risk. Klaus and Hayley's side plot, which sets up "The Originals," detracts from the main story as well and can be boring for those who just want to see regular "Vampire Diaries" content.

Best: You Made A Choice To Be Good

There are a lot of mixed feelings about Season 8, mostly because of the hell — literally — that Stefan, Damon, and the rest of the characters go through. However, Episode 11, "You Made A Choice To Be Good," is particularly well-crafted. Its 9.1 IMDb rating comes from its cinematography, higher stakes than ever before, and the death of a particularly beloved character.

Season 8 deals a lot with hell and the prospect that Stefan and Damon will end up there. So it only makes sense that after Mystic Falls is almost destroyed from the magic bell ringing, Cade (Wolé Parks), the literal devil, slips through the crack between planes and come to terrorize Damon and Stefan, who are still stuck as his errand boys, in person. However, Bonnie and Enzo (Michael Malarkey) are on the run to hide the tools Cade needs to destroy Mystic Falls. Along the way, the two keep stopping to enjoy Enzo's last moments of being immortal, before he takes the cure so he can grow old with Bonnie.

The episode is masterfully crafted and heartbreaking until the last second. Finally happy, Bonnie and Enzo have it all taken away in one moment by Stefan's inhuman decision. Emotions are heightened as the friends try to defeat the devil, and every moment creates heart-racing stress. Everything comes to a head with Enzo's death and Bonnie's defense of curing Stefan. Plus this episode has the iconic TikTok audio of Stefan's complete disregard for Elena's life.

Worst: Night of the Comet

One of the least offensive of the worst episodes is Season 1, Episode 2, "Night of the Comet," which has a 7.5 rating on IMDb. Season 1 is full of nostalgia for high school days or first romances, only with the higher stakes of death-by-vampire looming. "Night of the Comet" is only the second episode of the entire show, so there's still a lot of exposition to get through. Elena tries to get closer to Stefan, but it seems Damon, still in his early stages of character development and purposely creating messes, is going to get in their way — specifically by mentioning Stefan's ex-girlfriend. At the same time, Vicki (Kayla Ewell) is hospitalized after being bitten by Damon, which puts Matt on high vampire alert.

At this point, Elena, Bonnie, and the rest of the characters are still in the dark about vampires, and even about witches. As a result, there's so much exposition that dances around the true story of the vampires. More than anything, though, the early episodes of Season 1 have contradicting powers for vampires, like the crow associated with Damon's presence that never appears again or Damon using compulsion on Vicki without eye contact. It's clear this episode is still trying to figure out the world of "The Vampire Diaries," and there are some bumps in the road in doing so.

Best: The Sun Also Rises

Another fantastic episode is Season 2, Episode 21, "The Sun Also Rises." Its 9.1 rating on IMDb is due to the way that the episode's incredible events play out. Everyone brings top-tier performances, and some permanent consequences change the course of the entire story.

The episode starts after Klaus begins his ritual sacrifice to become a vampire-werewolf hybrid. Elena is captured as the doppelgänger, but Klaus' initial plan to use Tyler and Caroline backfires after Damon rescues them. As punishment for meddling, Klaus forces Jenna (Sara Canning) to transition into a vampire. As Jenna and Elena are going through the ritual, the rest of the friend group works to stop it. Unfortunately they don't make it in time, and both Jenna and Elena die. However, Bonnie has linked Elena's life to Uncle John (David Anders), so that Elena lives but John dies.

This is the penultimate episode of Season 2, so the stakes are especially high. The whole season has been leading to the ritual sacrifice, so to see it play out and have Elena and Jeremy lose another parental figure is heartbreaking. The use of Birdy's "Skinny Love" during Jenna's funeral is extremely well-done. What makes this episode really interesting, though, is that it shows us the true fear of conflict between werewolves and vampires. This is what makes Klaus all the more terrifying to the characters, because once he becomes a hybrid, the group has no idea how they'll manage to kill him.

Worst: Family Ties

Season 1, Episode 4, "Family Ties," aside from a blink-if-you-miss-it reference, is just another round of poorly done first season exposition. It only earns a 7.9 rating on IMDb because the characters are still just shells of what they're going to develop into, and the conflict still lies between the Salvatores, with no serious threats or stakes.

This episode has Stefan escorting Elena to the Founder's Ball, but all the while Damon tries to get in the way. First, he gets Caroline to plant doubt in Elena's head, and eventually has her tear Stefan away from Elena so that Damon can get Elena alone. Damon tells Elena about his sibling rivalry with Stefan, specifically over Katherine, and when Elena pressures Stefan for answers, he isn't forthcoming. At the Founder's Ball, the adults of Mystic Falls begin collecting Founder's antiques, ostensibly to show them off, but really to use them against the growing vampire population in the area.

At some point we needed to learn about the town council against vampires, but the supposed "shocking" reveal ends up being less than thrilling. It's really tough to watch the early episodes, as the audience tries to figure out the rules of vampirism and who the key players are. There's not a ton of excitement in this episode, but there is a funny reference toward the beginning where Damon is reading "Twilight." In real life, Ian Somerhalder is married to "Twilight" actress Nikki Reed, so him reading the line about "Twilight" is hilarious. 

Best: The Reckoning

One fan favorite is Season 3, Episode 5, "The Reckoning," which appropriately earned its 9.1 IMDb rating by creating intense situations mixed with high school hijinks and a lot of excitement.

The episode has the friends trying to enjoy senior prank night before their first day of school. However, their fun is cut short when Klaus shows up to find Elena and figure out why all of his hybrids keep dying. To incentivize Bonnie to figure out the mystery, he turns Tyler into a hybrid. Stefan gets in the way of Klaus hurting Elena, so Klaus forces him to turn his emotions off. Away from the school, Jeremy tells Damon and Katherine about Mikael, a vampire hunter who Anna (Malese Jow) warned them would kill everyone in his path to destroy vampires. This is the audience's first mention of Mikael, who becomes a huge part of the series. At the end of the episode, Klaus discovers Elena's blood is the key to creating hybrids, so he spares her life. Elena and Damon are left to figure out what to do about Stefan's lack of humanity.

"The Reckoning" is a direct representation of what the entirety of "The Vampire Diaries" is: young people trying to find the good in their lives while navigating the consequences of the supernatural. Stefan's Paul Wesley has a lot of strong acting moments in this episode while grappling with his humanity, and Damon and Elena relationship stans have a great moment to watch at the end of the episode.

Worst: Dead Man On Campus

A lot of what we see play out at Whitmore College isn't the most exciting material. One episode that perfectly exemplifies that is on the worst list: Season 5, Episode 8, "Dead Man On Campus." The 7.7 IMDb rating comes from the episode's lack of substance and abundance of filler.

Elena and Caroline throw Bonnie a party after she officially comes back from hell and becomes the anchor to the other side. Though Elena and Caroline are excited about their plans, Bonnie deals with the growing pains — emphasis on pains — of being the anchor. Across campus, Jesse (Kendrick Sampson) escapes Wes (Rick Cosnett) and seeks out Caroline's help after being turned into a vampire and experimented on. We also see Katherine getting close to Stefan while helping him get over his PTSD from being locked in a safe at the bottom of the quarry, while Katherine and Nadia (Olga Fonda) navigate the traveler in Matt's head.

From Wes' experimentations and Damon trying to get answers, to learning about the travelers and how they've impacted Matt, this entire episode has way too much exposition jammed into it. It's also another example of the ongoing struggle between Kat Graham and the show's creator, Julie Plec, who tried many times to kill off Bonnie but was forced by the CW — and eventually the threat of Ian Somerhalder leaving the show — to keep her as a main character.

Best: I Was Feeling Epic

Most shows pull out all the stops for their series finales, and "The Vampire Diaries" is no exception. One of the best, mot iconic episodes of the entire show is Season 8, Episode 16, "I Was Feeling Epic," which, with its 9.4 IMDb rating, wrapped up the whole series in a tight little bow.

The last episode has the fate of Mystic Falls hanging in the balance, and though eventually the town is saved, not everyone survives. Katherine returns to town to handle its demise, but Bonnie's clever plan to destroy her works because of Stefan's self-sacrifice. Stefan wants Damon to live a long life with Elena, who is awakened by Bonnie. In the end, Stefan and Katherine are killed, Bonnie leaves to travel the world, Elena and Damon are reunited to live out a human existence, and several of the other characters are shown to be moving on with their lives.

The cinematography, score, and acting are all fantastic, and the reunions between the characters are all tearjerking and beautiful. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, creator Julie Plec spoke about the motivations for Stefan's sacrifice, Damon's redemption, and the original ending, saying, "Once Nina left the show, all the plans of how it would end one day had to shift because ultimately it became ... about the relationships between the brothers themselves and their own path to redemption ... Ultimately the pitch that made it to the end was, I think, the best one."

Worst: What Lies Beneath

Season 5, Episode 20, "What Lies Beneath," earns its 7.6 IMDb rating due to its frustrating story involving pointless miscommunication and secrets kept.

Tyler heads to the Salvatores to tell them about Markos' plan to break the witches' curse, which requires Stefan and Elena as the doppelgängers. Damon and Caroline take the two to a remote cabin to hide, but quickly realize Stefan and Elena are keeping secrets. Once they're all attacked by a ghostly presence, who they realize is Enzo, the truth comes out about Enzo's death. However, Damon convinces Enzo they'll bring him back to life.

Though the episode is pretty lackluster, it's redeemed by giving Michael Malarkey room to play around as Enzo, which is great to watch knowing that Enzo becomes one of the show's best characters. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Creator Julie Plec revealed that the original plan was for Enzo to be a Salvatore brother, but eventually he just became a brotherly figure and best friend to Damon, as well as being sired by the Salvatore brothers' mother, Lily (Annie Wersching). But other than Enzo's ghostly antics, there's nothing special about this episode.

Best: Founder's Day

The drama, flashbacks, and romance of Season 1 all lead to Season 1, Episode 22, "Founder's Day." In this 9.2 IMDb-rated episode, the town is remembering its heritage and this season finale truly shows how high the stakes can be.

The adults of the Founder's Council are bracing themselves for the vampire attack at the Founder's Party. They use a machine with a spell that exposes vampires to see who reacts to it, luring out all supernatural beings. Damon, Anna, Stefan, and the rest of the vampires react, but shockingly Tyler and his father, who are both not vampires, react as well. Tyler and Stefan escape, but once the rest of the vampires are all rounded up, they're thrown in the basement of the Gilbert building, lit on fire and left to burn. Bonnie, feeling bad about lying that she un-spelled the machine, helps Stefan through the flames to save Damon. At the end of the episode, the infamous Katherine is introduced while impersonating her doppelgänger, Elena.

One aspect that makes this episode work well is the ensemble cast. It's exciting to everyone get together to reach a common purpose. But the best part is the cliffhanger ending, with the Katherine reveal and Elena heading in to face her doppelgänger, which left fans having to wait until the start of the second season to see how it plays out.

Worst: We Have History Together

There's a lot in Season 8 that isn't up to par with the usual standard of the show, but one of the worst offenders is Episode 8, "We Have History Together." Its 7.5 IMDb rating stems mainly from irrelevant side plots and the presence of Sybil (Nathalie Kelley).

Stefan and Damon are on their ripper kick while serving Cade and killing evil souls for him. They eventually test the morals of a young doctor named Tara. Meanwhile, Caroline is getting a lesson from Sybil, who is holding an entire class of high school students hostage until she retrieves the magic bell she's looking for, and Matt is at the Armory learning about a box Tyler left behind.

This episode, in short, is really boring. Sybil and the sirens are arguably the worst addition to the show, complicating every situation in a manner that doesn't feel right for the storyline. When you pair this with Stefan and Damon grappling with humanity and doing someone else's dirty work, which more or less repeats earlier themes and plotlines, "We Have History Together" falls short of anything other than a filler episode with one new piece of information: the bell.

Best: Masquerade

With its 9.1 IMDb rating, this episode was almost the best of the series, but fell just short. Season 2, Episode 7, "Masquerade," is surprisingly fantastic and exciting even though it's only a few episodes into the season.

"Masquerade" follows Katherine as she terrorizes Mystic Falls, Elena, and her friends to get what she wants: the moonstone and Stefan. After hurting Jenna, Katherine's warning to Elena sinks in and Elena dumps Stefan. At the same time, the rest of the friend group bands together to create a plan that will kill Katherine and keep the moonstone concealed at the masquerade ball. However, the problem comes in with the reveal that Katherine had her witch friend link her body to Elena's, so whatever happens to Katherine will happen to her. In another surprising reveal, Tyler triggers his werewolf curse by accidentally killing his date to the masquerade ball.

This entire episode keeps you engaged every second of the way. Every moment resonates with the audience, from Stefan and Elena's relationship drama and Tyler triggering the curse to the camaraderie of the group as they band together to kill Katherine. This episode has exactly what a good "The Vampire Diaries" episode should have: comedy, drama, exciting moments, and anticipation of what happens next. The entire cast is brilliant, with Nina Dobrev giving a wonderful performance in particular as both Elena and Katherine.

Worst: I'll Remember

As far as season premieres go, Season 6, Episode 1, "I'll Remember," is about as disappointing as it gets. The 7.7 IMDb rating comes from the premiere feeling seemingly rushed so that show can get to the next episode (Season 6, Episode 2), a better entry with lots of answers.

Season 5 ends on a really tough blow, with Bonnie and Damon dying and the rest of the friend group left to deal with the grief. Elena spends this episode coping by studying hard and using witch-drugs to see Damon as much as she can, even though it's just an illusion. The rest of the cast is grieving too, but not just for Damon and Bonnie; they're grieving for the loss of their home in Mystic Falls, as it's now off-limits to any vampires.

The only great part of this episode is that Alaric meets Jo (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). She becomes a great character and presence in the show and helps progress the plot greatly. Otherwise, there are no answers as to where Bonnie and Damon are, and the episode only really explores how the characters are trying to cope, which seems short-lived due to the fact that the audience knows Bonnie and Damon will be back. The episode's ending is even more annoying, as Elena once again can't deal with her own grief. Instead of turning off her humanity like last time, she gets Alaric to compel her to forget she ever loved Damon. It seems like a cheap plot device that's more of a cop-out than anything else.

Best: The Departed

Undoubtedly the best episode of the show is Season 3, Episode 22, "The Departed." This season finale earned its 9.5 IMDb rating and the highest rating of any episode because of the incredible cinematography, shocking reveals, and gripping ensemble performances.

The episode follows the friends trying to keep Alaric from killing Klaus. Damon goes with Bonnie to move Klaus' body, while Matt, Stefan, Jeremy and Elena devise a plan from home. However, Alaric stabs Klaus with the white oak stake, putting all of the vampires we love in potential danger of death, and Tyler in immediate danger. Matt takes Elena out of town, telling her that he can take her to either Damon, who is at the storage lockers, or Stefan, who is back home in Mystic Falls. She chooses Stefan, only she's stopped by Rebekah, who runs Matt's truck off the bridge and into the river. Elena dies, but with vampire blood in her system, making her a vampire.

This chilling episode changes the entire series by making Elena a vampire, which impacts her feelings for the Salvatore brothers. Also, the way the episode plays out cinematically is brilliant. There are haunting parallel car accidents, and the weaving of heartbreaking flashbacks into the story. Mostly, the reveals in this episode all come with a sting that keeps the audience guessing. There's no doubt that when watching this one for the first time or rewatching it for the 10th time, viewers will feel an overwhelming rush of emotion.