The Ship Debate: The Vampire Diaries Edition

To ship or not to ship. That’s a debate we’ve had for many years, about many shows, many couples. And even though we here at Fangirlish agree on many things, we don’t agree on everything, and one of the things we don’t always agree on is ships.

Especially when we go way back, apparently.

But here at Fangirlish we also believe that you can ship what you ship, and you can defend what you ship, but ship arguments between friends can actually be fun and constructive. So we don’t agree on ships. Big deal. Does that mean we can’t be friends? Nope. Does that mean we’ll just change ships? Hell no.

It means we can have these fun kind of arguments.

For this roundtable we are focusing on one of our favorite dramas; The Vampire Diaries.  This show was full of ships, so naturally we have a nice debate going.  Let’s get right to it! Joining me are Erin, Shelby,  Grace, Annie, Luke, and Lacey.

Season 5 Elena Stan Club GIF

It has been 2 years since The Vampire Diaries ended. Why do you think that people are still talking about the show? What gives the show it’s staying power with fans?

Jasmine: I think the reason we are still talking about TVD today is because it was the first vampire TV series for a young demographic to air since Buffy. I could be wrong but I’ve watched many television shows through the years and hadn’t seen many with vampires. What I think gives TVD its staying power is the fact that it’s relatable. While the series is about vampires, there are other things going on in each characters life. The vampire problems aren’t the biggest worries they have. They’re dealing with high school problems, family problems, all things that many of us have experienced.

Shelby: I can’t believe it has been two years since the show ended! Other than the people who watched the show as it aired and are still incredibly passionate about TVD to this day, I believe that a lot of the show’s consistent relevance comes from streaming. People are constantly looking for new things to watch on any given streaming platform and Netflix holds all eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries. Beyond that, the stories within The Vampire Diaries do contain vampires, witches, werewolves, and everything in between but they are also rooted in human truths. The characters go through high school, college, and life afterwards. They experience the ups and downs of different relationships; they grieve and grow. They experience the ups and downs of life, just like the audience, except the stakes seem a lot higher for them at times.

Erin: The reason that The Vampire Diaries sticks with me is that it was the show that defined a part of my life. The show taught me so much about what I wanted to do with my life, what I didn’t want to deal with, and what I wanted to do. I find Julie Plec to be a genius and master storyteller. She made us feel for characters, even when it felt like the same story over and over again. You forgot about that because you knew that there was always a complex moment to come. I feel like TVD paved the way for young adult television and the way that it should always evoke emotion.

Grace: This show was my life practically all through high school. I remember spending hours on Tumblr just talking about it. Still, to this day, I’ll find myself eager to watch it again and talk to people about the show that was such a big part of my life. It’s amazing to think that even years after it has ended that so many people continue to find it and love it as much as I do. I think that’s in large part due to what a heartfelt, compelling story it was. It didn’t matter whether you were Team Stelena or Delena because there were so many other amazing reasons to watch the show. It taught me a lot growing up and I’m sure during my next re-watch of it, I’ll find another new reason to love it.

Annie: Though I’ll admit I lost track of TVD after Nina left and picked up sparsely towards the finale, like Grace, the show premiered when I was in high school and it carried me through graduation and undergrad. It was one of my first in depth internet fandoms – the show I used when I was first learning to gif and graphic on Photoshop, inspiration for entire series’ worth of fanfiction, the one that bonded me to my first true internet friends. While I’ll always love a well-executed coming of age narrative, I love TVD for its lore. The rules of supernatural life and magic that drove many of the plots held my attention long after my interest in back and forth love triangles waned – though some TVD/Originals ships remained OG OTPs to this day.

Luke: It delivered passion, adventure and even a little danger. Alright, a lot of danger. It was easy to understand why fans every Thursday at eight pm invited this show and these characters into their homes. For one hour fans were transported into the town of Mystic Falls encountering a wide range of characters who still to this day are spoken about and loved. The series was captivating enough to melt our reality for a little bit. We forgot our drama’s and troubles and focused on the ones that the Scooby-gang had to deal with. Fans continue to come back to this show because it’s like coming back to an old friend. It’s familiar, safe and as Damon would say it’s not the worst company in the world.

Lacey: As a diehard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, when I first heard of TVD, I was hooked! Forbidden loves and demons of the night had my name written all over it. But this show was more than just a show about vampires and immortality; this show was about conquering pain and learning to trust yourself. It wasn’t afraid to piss people off and it didn’t run away from the hard topics. TVD will always be one of my favorite shows and it will stay with me forever.

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Pick a side: Stelena or Delena. No middle of the road allowed. Why?

Jasmine: I always thought I was team Stelena but as I’m thinking about it now, I have to say Delena. Elena and Damon have such a passionate love for each other. They went through a lot in their relationship but no matter what, they always seemed to find their way back. Damon did his fair share of bad shit (*cough killing her brother, cough*) which I’m well aware of but in the end he did redeem himself.

Shelby: Stefan. It’s always going to be Stefan for me. Stefan Salvatore is my favorite character on the show and probably one of my favorite television characters ever, so it’s no secret that I prefer him with Elena. Their relationship held more weight with me. I loved how epic their love was. While I am a fan of Stefan and Caroline and could go on and on about why I think they are also a perfect match, Stefan and Elena were one of the first couples I ever rooted for. I love that Stefan and Elena found each other at a time when they both were looking for something to revitalize them, to bring them back to life, and they found that in each other. Stefan always respected Elena and her decisions. He, more often than not, asked for her opinions on different matters, not because he wanted her to believe that she was heard and then ignore her but to actually hear her out and incorporate her ideas into a give plan. Elena allowed us to see a new side of Stefan, one where he could joke around and dance a little. Stefan had the weight of the world on his shoulders for a laundry list of reasons, and Elena helped him take some of that weight off by showing him that not everything was his fault. Essentially, I love what Elena and Stefan brought out in each other. I adore what they meant to each other in a pivotal time in both of their lives. I also really like how their relationship evolved even after they weren’t romantically involved anymore. They were still the best of friends and would do anything for the other. Stefan and Elena were epic and nothing can take that from them.

Erin: Up until the moment that Caroline and Stefan were standing in front of the vending machine in the hospital and he asked Caroline why she had a thing for him – I would have always said Stelena. But that moment changed everything for me and I know that Stelena wasn’t meant to be. Delena was. Now, sure they aren’t perfect – not even close. But Damon and Elena were able to forgive each other at their worst and love each other at their best. And throughout the course of their relationship – they were able to evolve through the ebbs and flows. I think it was a beautiful thing. Delena just felt right.

Grace: I am a diehard Delena fan. I think Rose had it right — Damon challenged Elena while Elena made Damon a better person. Stefan and Elena were a great first love, I’ll admit that, but Damon and Elena are soulmates. Perhaps if Elena remained a human, things would have turned out differently. But Elena becoming a vampire changed everything and made her realize her feelings for Damon in ways she never could have as a human. On top of that, when all Stefan wanted to do was change her, Damon was able to accept this new Elena for better or worse — the main reason why I think Damon is better for Elena.

Annie: Delena for sure. I’ll never forget how I felt watching some of the scenes as early as season 1 that hinted at something beyond begrudging acquaintance; there was something deeply moving in seeing how our actions and choices can be affected by those we love and care about, even if we’re not ready to admit it. Damon’s love for Elena asked him to choose to be a better person, whereas Elena’s love for Damon allowed her to grow both as a person and a vampire, finding parts of herself that I’m not sure she would have otherwise. His willingness to sacrifice anything and everything for her will always make my heart melt.

Black And White Love GIF

Luke: Damon and Elena, hand’s down. There is something incredibly beautiful with this couple and in order to appreciate them you have to start back at the beginning. Back to when Stefan explained to Elena in 1×02 about a comet. That had been traveling for thousands of years all alone. Some believed it to be a harbinger of evil while others saw it simply as a ball of snow and ice trapped on a path that it would never escape. However, every one hundred and forty five years it would come home. Damon was that comet. He started out to fans as the villain of TVD. He killed for sport and did it with a smile on his face. He had no remorse. He was cold and his walls were always up. Everyone including his own brother deemed him to be a lost cause and only a monster but Elena proved them wrong and more importantly she proved Damon wrong. Bit by bit his walls came down. The mask slipped and he showed her his true self. We witnessed Damon grow from the man who committed the most selfish of acts like snapping her brothers neck in her bedroom to later confessing he loves her in that very bedroom. Only to compel that memory away because he believed himself to be unworthy of her love. Yes, he made his mistakes but he owned up to them. His actions he sometimes chose were wrong but at the end of the day everything he did was motivated by love. Rose once told Jeremy that Damon is either the best thing for Elena or the worse and the truth is they are the best thing for each other because they both gave back to one another. Elena made Damon realize that there was a man hidden beneath the monster. She helped in making him the better man. A man who would trade in his fangs for a heart beat. While Damon showed Elena that she wasn’t just the sad and lost little girl who lost her parents but so much more.

Lacey: Erin and I are on the same page here. I was a diehard Stelena fan and was livid when it was clear the show was pursuing Delena but when Steroline came on board?? Oh man, my heart soared! When the series first began, Caroline wasn’t one of my favorites and was clearly very self-absorbed but as the series went on, I realized that she was an amazing person who used a mask of constant happiness to cover up her pain. She was the most relatable character, in my opinion and to see her find true love with Stefan was everything! In the end, I didn’t have any feelings in regards to Delena. I thought they were great but they weren’t my reason for continuing the show but I am happy for the fans that they got their happy ending with Delena.

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What was it about the ships on The Vampire Diaries that resonated with you? Which ship do you relate to the most? Why?

Jasmine: What resonated with me most when it came to the ships was, the willingness to do whatever it took for each other. The couples were always making sacrifices for their significant other. They weren’t always great ones that is for sure, but it showed how much they loved each other. The ship I related to the most was Bonnie and Enzo. They didn’t have the most conventional start to their relationship but their love was so strong and Enzo was willing to do everything for Bonnie.

Shelby: The relationships on The Vampire Diaries resonated with me because they all felt like a safe haven from all of the supernatural problems causing Mystic Falls to burn down around them. Whether they were the ones I liked or the ones I weren’t too fond of, the relationships on this show also felt real and true to relationships I have experienced or people I know have experienced. There is in the human experience when it comes to love, albeit between friends, family, significant others. So to that extent, the relationships of TVD reminded me of the characters’ humanity, even when those characters had lost all hope of ever finding that part of themselves again. That being said, I don’t know if this is considered a ship or not but I am going to write about it anyway. I relate most to the relationship between Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline. Their bond that lasted to the very last minute of The Vampire Diaries is one that I see in my relationship with my best friends. Those three showed up for each other through the thickest and thinnest of situations. They were there for each other through life, death, afterlife, and back. That loyalty and transcendent love is one I have for my best friends as well.

Erin: The thing about the relationships on TVD was that they all felt like they could be real. The supernatural element was second nature. That’s the great thing about storytelling – when it feels like it could happen in your real life. I feel like their ships were some of the most important for me because it changed the way that I thought that stories should be told.

Grace: While it is a show about vampires, werewolves, and witches, deep down The Vampire Diaries is truly just about how important relationships are. I think the reason the relationships resonated with me is that it showed me that no matter all the terrible things in life, it’s important to have people by your side through the thick and thin. Whether that’s your best friend or significant other, it helps to not go through things alone. All the characters on the show go through so much, but they had each other and that is what helped them get through all.

Annie: My favorite part about the ships in TVD is that they always came from a genuine, believable place. For the most part, by the time two characters got together (or they seemed like they would be great together if not canon), foundations for that relationship had already been laid weeks if not years in advance by the show. The great thing about a huge ensemble cast is that there were endless moments and opportunities for care and intimacy between characters that may never have otherwise interacted, if not for whatever big bad or supernatural crisis was at hand. Despite being vampires, werewolves, witches or otherwise, you could tell that all our favs wanted love and family and connection and that required a lot of vulnerability that the show handled very well, no matter the pairing.

Luke: What resonated the most with me when it came to the ships on Vampire Diaries is how no matter the couple they were always fighting for each other and their love. At the end of the day isn’t that what we all want? Someone who deems us to be worth fighting for? The kind of love that consumes you. Not to mention when it came to the ships on TVD their love stories were different. It wasn’t the same recycled story because each relationship had their own story to tell. In regards to the ship I relate to the most it would be Damon and Elena. So much darkness had surrounded Damon. It’s like he was drowning in this never ending darkness. Every time he’d tried to surface he’d be dragged down again until one day a hand grasped his own, pulled him out of the darkness into the light and breathed life back into him. That was Elena for him and for me it was and still is my ex. When he was without Elena he became reckless and unfortunately I can relate to it. Maybe we didn’t handle our feelings in the best of ways but we each searched through the darkness desperate to find the light again. It was refreshing to see that in someone, even if he was just a character. The depth of his love for Elena is something I know well like the back of my own hand.

Lacey: What made the TVD ships so strong was their deep love and dedication for each other. They were willing to do whatever it took to protect each other, even if it meant losing them. This rang true with Bonnie and Enzo. I can’t even talk about them without smiling and tearing up. My sweet, passionate Bonenzo…my goodness do I love this couple! The development of their story was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen from a TV ship. Enzo found his purpose in Bonnie and she finally realized it was okay to be selfish and find love for herself. I know they were reunited in the end but it still kills me that she lost him in the end.

The Vampire Diaries Klaus Mikaelson GIF

Caroline and Klaus. Klaus seemed to be incapable of love, but with Caroline his walls came down. What was it about Caroline and Klaus that made them vulnerable with each other. Why do you think that fans found their ship to be timeless?

Shelby: Caroline and Klaus are an interesting pair to me and my opinions about a romantic relationship between them have changed over the years. When I was younger and watched The Vampire Diaries as it aired, I was all in. I couldn’t see a reason why the two of them shouldn’t be together. As the series progressed and I got older and became more aware of the toxic elements of their relationship, I started to back away from that ship. I can’t speak for the entire fandom but I can speak for myself. I was initially drawn to Caroline and Klaus because I was drawn to the idea that anyone can love and be loved, even Klaus. I also liked their banter and how we saw a more vulnerable side of Klaus that didn’t involve his family. He had to work harder to catch Caroline’s eye and I liked that. Then again, it became hard to overlook the way Klaus manipulated Caroline. I know this isn’t a roundtable about The Originals but I do want to mention how much I enjoyed the way they wrapped up Caroline and Klaus’s relationship on that show. Both of the characters reckoned with their past together. It felt like a conversation that two characters who have evolved and grown would have. Essentially, I went from being obsessed with Caroline and Klaus, to wanting Klaus to stay away from Caroline, to appreciating where they both ended up and feeling optimistic about a future they could have shared together.

Erin: Because we are all looking for the love that is eternal, that is the last one you’ll ever have and feel. The one that is true. And these two were just that. But I think that part of what made it so timeless is that they didn’t end up together, which made us believe in them more. Because it was realistic.

Grace: When Klaroline first happened, I was all for it. But after watching it all again, I find it so hard to believe Caroline would ever be with Klaus. Sure he was very charming, but did she just completely forget that he killed Tyler’s mom? I know all of our favorite vampires have all done horrible things (which is why I’ll just ignore all his actions in season two) but how Caroline could be with someone who murdered her ex-boyfriend’s mother is beyond me. This doesn’t really answer the question but that’s my two cents.

Annie: Speaking of an OG OTP… god I’ll love Klaroline till the day I die. It’s been so long that I genuinely forgot Klaus killed Mrs. Lockwood, but we’ve had to swallow a lot of crazy actions and murders on this show so I’m just gonna let that one go for the sake of discussion. Klaus and Caroline saw each other for who they really were, deep down. Caroline saw Klaus’ insecurity that he covered with charm and bravado, where reflexively Klaus saw Caroline’s strength and power that was often overlooked. She’s literally not afraid of him besides perhaps their initial scenes together, which was a little destabilizing and exciting for Klaus. Caroline ended up being able to rely on him as well, and of course through the Originals they’re essentially on equal footing as parents and have that further in common. I appreciated (though painfully) the way Klaus professed his feelings but never pushed Caroline, which made their last scenes together in TVD so wonderful as they were again coming from a place of even power dynamics. Why they didn’t kiss in the last episode of The Originals will always be beyond me and I will always be bitter about it. But that’s a rant for another day.

Luke: It’s a tale as old as time. A modern day Beauty and the Beast. Klaus for over centuries had his walls built around him. Shutting him out from the rest of the world. With Caroline though it was different. She intrigued him. She called him out and challenged him. It was probably something he wasn’t used to and when you spend centuries of your life on earth and you experience something new it’s absolutely thrilling. He didn’t hide his affections from her never having trouble revealing how he fancies her. He confessed to her how she brought light and when you live in the darkness for so long you crave to see the light again. Caroline delivered that light and with it a different version of Klaus came forward. The Big Bad Wolf became a puppy in her presence and it was always enjoyable to watch. For Caroline she was used to always being second best when it came to the guys in her life. With Klaus though it was different. Every time she looked his way she’d find him looking right at her. It frightened her and yet excited her and she was drawn to him. They’re a ship that remains timeless to fans because they never properly got their time. They never really had the chance to be together. We never were able to witness how they would have functioned as a couple and I think that’s why their fans carry so much passion towards this ship.

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Bonnie. Do you think that her friendship with Damon was just a friendship or that subconsciously the two felt more for each other? Or do you think that Enzo will always be her one true love?

Jasmine: Bonnie and Damon always had an interesting relationship. They spent so much time together stuck in the 90s, I really felt they might hook up but it didn’t happen. I think they both respected each other and their friendship meant so much that they didn’t want to ruin that relationship. Enzo, oh my poor Enzo, I am still not over his death! I can’t forgive Stefan for killing him BTW. Bonnie had finally found happiness! A happiness she was so deserving of. She worked her ass off to help her friends all the time, she found love of her own with Jeremy but she lost it. It was literally like everything was always getting taken from her! When she and Enzo eventually got together I was so happy and they were so in love. Stefan just came and tore it all apart!

Shelby: I really don’t understand why so many fans ship(ped) Bonnie and Damon romantically. I have tried to understand it or try and watch some scenes from that perspective. It never lands right for me. I like the friendship that Bonnie and Damon developed over the course of the series. It felt really natural, the way those two gravitated towards each other. I’m a firm believer that Bonnie and Damon loved each other but how a friend would love another friend. I could see Bonnie and Damon the way I do because I am all for Bonnie and Enzo. That relationship caught me off guard and then hit me like a ton of bricks. I wish they had more time; I wish Enzo had more time. Bonnie and Enzo were so perfect together and could have had a long life of adventures. It’s a real shame.

Erin: Bonnie is my least favorite character – because I felt like she was always whining. LIKE ALWAYS. Though she’s also the strongest character for me in this show. I just wanted her to catch a break and she never did. I also wanted to see her be selfish, but she never would be. But – do I think she had feelings for Damon? Nope. I think she was willing to sacrifice everything to force him to be a better version of himself for the best friend that gave up everything to love him.

Grace: Yeah I don’t understand people who ship Bonnie and Damon romantically. I think they became good friends after their time together back in the 90s, but I don’t think anything more than friendship would ever happen between these two.

Annie: I think what’s great about Bonnie and Damon was that it was always only friendship. Platonic relationships were harder to come by in TVD as the years went on (with the exception of Matt, bless him) so I was really happy to see them both have a great friend at the end of that trauma together. As for Enzo and Bonnie, my memory is foggy so it feels like they happened very quickly with less ground work, so while they didn’t bother me as a couple, I was a lot less invested in them emotionally than with other relationships.

Luke: It was always a friendship. They started off hating one another. The hating turned to toleration because they agreed on the common goal of keeping Elena alive. Toleration turned to friendship and friendship overtime especially when trapped in the Prison World turned to love. The platonic kind though. They became each other’s best friends. Enzo was her true love. There was something beautifully poetic about it. She went from the start of the series deeming vampires as evil and found herself in the end falling in love with one. It wasn’t her forcing herself to settle because Damon was in love with someone else. She genuinely loved Enzo.

Lacey: Bonnie and Damon were friends, almost like siblings. They had each other’s backs and supported each other through it all. They went from enemies to family and it was a stellar relationship development. Elena is Damon’s OTP and Enzo is Bonnie’s. I can’t imagine it any other way because it would take away from the beauty that was their friendship.

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What ship do you wish would have set sail?

Jasmine: Hmm, I don’t have one. They basically all happened throughout the series. If anything, I wish that Bonnie and Enzo had gotten a nice ending like everyone else did. Personally I think it was total bullshit to end the entire series with Elena and Damon being basically the only happy couple.

Shelby: I’m not sure that I have an answer to this question. I have ships that I wish didn’t set sail but did. Like Jasmine, I wish that we got to see more of Bonnie and Enzo. Ultimately, looking back over the series, I can appreciate why nearly every character chose to be with who they did when they did.

Erin: I think for me, I would have wanted more Klaroline. Sure, they set sail in their own way, but I wanted more. I think I always will. And that’s what makes it amazing.

Grace: Damon and Elena lived happily ever after, and honestly, that’s all I ever wanted from this show ship-wise. Though, I really loved Tyler and Caroline together so I guess I would have loved for them to find their way back to each other (even though that’s impossible because of Tyler’s awful ending).

Annie: Klaroline, cause we were robbed. That last scene in the forest was not enough – and her appearances in The Originals, while perfect, felt like being dangled a carrot that was always just snatched away. I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Caroline and Enzo and always thought they could be really lovely together, especially when Stefan was being The Worst. They had a very fun push-pull that is definitely my kryptonite when it comes to ships.

Luke: Before people bite off my head for this give me a chance to explain. I would have loved to see something come out of Damon and Katherine. I believe there was more to their tale then we were told. Katherine had no problem saying I love you to Elijah, Mason, Stefan, etc but told to Damon’s face she never loved him. However, we know that’s bs because she confessed to Stefan and Elena that she had. Why was Damon the only one she couldn’t tell the truth to? Katherine compelled Stefan to not fear her. Taking away fear takes away a big part of a person. Stefan was the safe choice. The guy she could leave behind because she’d find another Stefan somewhere else in the world. Damon was different though. He loved her all on his own. Damon was the risk because he loved with reckless abandon the kind that might have gotten her killed. I didn’t want a relationship between the two. I would have liked in S5 before Katherine was daggered that she reveals to Damon she lied and that it was always him. She would have dropped a bomb on him and fans. Having it remain that it was always Stefan was so generic and a real snooze fest. The angst would have been ten times more if Damon had been the one to dagger Katherine, saying goodbye to his past love and hello to his present.

Lacey: It’s not so much that I wish they had set sail, it’s that I wish my ships could have had more time together. Stefan and Caroline didn’t even get to truly celebrate their wedding and Bonnie and Enzo’s happily ever after was cut way too short. If I could change anything, it would be for them to have time together without the fear of death looming over their heads. For them to just be.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!

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