The Vampire Diaries was a supernatural drama, based on a popular series of books of the same name. The show revolves around the lives of the Salvatore brothers, Stefan and Damon – two vampires who were born in the 19th century, as they return to their hometown of Mystic Falls in 21st century Virginia. The two become interested in a selfless and beautiful teenage girl, Elena Gilbert.
As the plot unfolds, secrets are discovered, and old enemies return. Stefan, Damon, Elena, and their friends, are forced to constantly defend the town – and one another – against supernatural threats. While the show presents the complicated relationships between the characters, it also offers glimpses into their past, allowing viewers to learn more about its characters’ motives.
Throughout its eight seasons, we fell in love with the show’s characters, as well as its interesting storylines, that span across decades of mythology. Between vampires, witches, werewolves, and hybrids – The Vampire Diaries created an entire mystical world that draws viewers in, proving itself to be much more than just a teen drama.
When The Vampire Diaries first aired in 2009 on The CW, its pilot attracted more viewers than any series premiere since the network’s beginning in 2006. And before being outranked by Arrow, The Vampire Diaries continued to be the most watched series on the network. While reviews were mixed at first, they got much better as the show progressed. The Vampire Diaries was also nominated for such honors as a People’s Choice and Teen Choice Awards, winning several over the years.
In time, the show has gained a base of incredibly loyal fans, many of whom continued watching the show even after one its stars, Nina Dobrev (Elena) departed from it after its sixth season. It also received its own spin-off series, The Originals, which will air its fifth and final season this year. The show focuses on the family of original vampires – Klaus, Rebekah, and Elijah Mikaelson – who were the main antagonists on The Vampire Diaries and highly popular among the show’s viewers. Aside from its spin-off, DC comics also launched a comic-book series based on the show, in 2013.
The Vampire Diaries wouldn’t be what it was, if it weren’t for the talented cast, who truly brought it to life. It’s their honest portrayal of the complex characters and relationships, that won the show its die-hard fans. So what is the cast of The Vampire Diaries like in real life? Keep reading to find out what these wonderful actors and actresses are doing these days.
Kat Graham as Bonnie Bennett
Bonnie is incredibly smart, highly moral, and selfless. At the beginning of the show, she learns that she comes from a long line of witches, and that she possesses inherited powers. She becomes a powerful witch and frequently comes to her friends’ rescue. In fact, her powers were so great that they allowed her to destroy hell itself, annihilating the various evil creatures that lived within it. After Elena is cursed and as a result falls into a coma, Bonnie manages to break the curse and wake her up.
Kat Graham – in real life
Kat Graham is not only an actress, but also a model, dancer, and singer-songwriter. She was a background dancer for Missy Elliott, Pharrell, and Jamie Foxx, to name a few, and also participated in music videos for artists like John Legend and Justin Bieber. After her time on The Vampire Diaries ended, Kat took on a role in the Tupac biography All Eyez on Me, and is set to star as the voice of April O’Neil in TV animation Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore
Stefan is the younger Salvatore brother. While he seems to be an epitome of the good and decent at first, it turns out he has a very dark past to make up for. Throughout the series, he’s in constant battle with himself, trying to stay on the right path and keep Damon on it as well. His romance with Elena is a major one, but at the end it’s his relationship with Damon that makes the show. The Salvatore brothers have their fair share of fights, but in the end Stefan sacrifices his own life to save Damon’s, during their final standoff with fellow vampire Katherine.
Paul Wesley – in real life
Paul Wesley is most widely known for his role as the brooding heartthrob, Stefan Salvatore, on The Vampire Diaries. In addition to playing Stefan, Paul also had a few movie roles, but has done most of his work in television. The actor had recurring roles in the WB drama Everwood, as well as NBC’s American Dreams, and guest starred on shows like Smallville, The O.C., and the sci-fi drama Fallen. Paul was married to actress, musician and former fashion model, Torrey DeVitto, but the couple called it quits in 2013.
Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore
Damon is the older Salvatore brother. Though he often comes off as “the bad one,” doing outrageous things, we find out that the Salvatores’ history is more complicated than that, and come to see Damon’s good side. His selfless love for Elena and his brother Stefan is his redeeming quality – and what more often than not causes him to do the right thing. At the end, he turns into a human, and spends the rest of his life with Elena.
Ian Somerhalder – in real life
Ian started his acting career in the short lived teen drama, Young Americans, alongside Kate Bosworth. He became highly known after landing the role of Boone in popular sci-fi show, Lost, but his role of bad boy Damon in The Vampire Diaries truly made him a heartthrob. In fact, there was even a petition to cast him as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. The actor is currently married to Twilight actress Nikki Reed, with whom he has a daughter called Bodhi Soleil.
Candice King as Caroline Forbes
Caroline is fierce and loyal, and the most organized of the bunch. Starting off as selfish and immature, after Caroline is turned into a vampire, she finds her strength and grows up. While Caroline has several relationships throughout the show, the one that really got fans hoping for a happy ending was her romance with Klaus, one of the originals. Though she later Caroline falls in love with Stefan, at the end of the series she receives a letter from Klaus, making Klaroline fans hope for a reunion in The Originals.
Candice King – in real life
Like Kat Graham, Candice King (formerly Accola), is also a singer and songwriter. She released her debut album It’s Always the Innocent Ones in 2006, and was also a backup singer for Miley Cyrus. In 2018, the actress will be resuming her role as the bubbly Caroline, in the fifth and final season of the show’s spin-off, The Originals. She’s currently married to Joe King of the band The Fray, with whom she has a child together, as well as two kids from his former marriage.
Matthew Davis as Alaric Saltzman
Alaric is a smart and loyal vampire hunter, who initially comes to mystic falls to find the vampire who killed his wife. He experiences quite a few heartbreaks – when he finds out his wife actually left him, and when he dates Jenna and she gets killed. But the most devastating heartbreak was when Jo, his fiancée, gets killed at their wedding, while carrying their twin babies. Luckily, the babies survive and Alaric goes on raising them. In the end, he and Caroline open a school for supernatural children together.
Matthew Davis – in real life
Matthew’s first major role was in the movie Legally Blonde, alongside Reese Witherspoon and Selma Blair. After that, he continued participating in movies like drama Blue Crush, and romantic comedy Seeing Other People. He also had quite a few roles in television shows, such as the ABC comedy What About Brian, as well as crime dramas Damages and CSI. Matthew will also reprise his role of hunter Alaric, on the final season of The Originals.
Zach Roerig as Matt Donovan
Matt is depicted as the most normal of the characters, loyal and honest. He’s had quite a difficult life, having an estranged father, and a mother who’s barely there. His sister also suffers from substance abuse, and dies early on in the show, leaving him devastated. Once he learns about supernatural beings, he goes back and forth, sometimes cooperating with them, and when they hurt humans, loathing them. At the end, Matt becomes an officer and reunites with his father.
Zach Roerig – in real life
Aside from playing the loyal Matt Donovan on The Vampire Diaries, Zach Roerig is also known for his roles in soap operas As the World Turns, and later One Life to Live. He had a recurring role in the NBC football drama, Friday Night Lights, as well as a guest role in FOX’s supernatural show, The Gifted. The actor was also involved in a year long relationship with his Vampire Diaries co-star, Nathalie Kelley, who played the powerful siren Sybil on the show.
Sara Canning as Jenna Sommers
Jenna is the loving and caring aunt of Elena and her brother, Jeremy, and their legal guardian after the death of their parents. Through most of her time on the show, Jenna is unaware of supernatural beings, although she’s often used as a pawn for them. Jenna’s most meaningful relationship is with Alaric, Elena’s history teacher and a hunter of supernatural beings. While Jenna is tragically killed by Klaus, the flash forward on the series finale shows her reunited with Elena, after her death.
Sara Canning – in real life
Sara Canning’s acting debut was in theatre, playing in George Orwell’s 1984 at the age of 18. Other than her role of the devoted aunt Jenna in The Vampire Diaries, the actress had roles in sci-fi shows Smallville and Supernatural, as well. She also starred in the spin-off of a BBC adventure drama, Primeval: New World, and a short lived medical drama named Remedy. In 2017, Sara participated in action adventure, War for the Planet of the Apes – part of Planet of the Apes’ reboot franchise.
Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood
Tyler seems to be human at first, but we soon find out he’s actually carrier of the werewolf gene. He tries to fight his transformation, but being aggressive and arrogant as he is, he fails and becomes a werewolf (and later a hybrid). Caroline helps him with his struggle, and the two engage in a romantic relationship, before Klaus arrives to town, woes Caroline into having feelings for him, and eventually banishing Tyler out of town. Tyler is ultimately killed by Damon, on one of Damon’s self destruction sprees.
Michael Trevino – in real life
Michael Trevino played the character of hot-headed Tyler Lockwood on The Vampire diaries, and The Originals. Other than his role as Tyler, the actor participated in quite a few television shows, such as supernatural drama Charmed, and crime dramas Bones, CSI, and The Mentalist. He also appeared in three episodes of the CW’s 90210 reboot, playing a high school student named Ozzie, a love interest to Naomi. Trevino was recently cast in sci-fi series Roswell’s reboot, as Kyle Valenti, the popular son of the town’s sheriff.
Claire Holt as Rebekah Mikaelson
Rebekah is the only female of the original vampires. She’s stubborn, vindictive, and cruel at times – but is also quite vulnerable, and it seems that her harsh life circumstances turned her to be spiteful. She’s never wanted to be a vampire, and tries to obtain “The Cure” in order to become human again. She has a romantic past with Stefan that dates back to a century earlier, and also gets involved with human Matt for a while. Rebekah moves on to appear in The Originals, the show’s successful spin-off.
Claire Holt – in real life
Claire began her acting career in an adventure show about mermaids called H2O: Just Add Water. She’s mostly familiar by her role as the fierce Rebekah Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries, and later The Originals. Recently, the actress went through trauma when she had a miscarriage that left her broken and depressed. Claire chose to go public with her struggle, stating that although it’s very personal to her, she also thinks it’s important to share with others, for women who might have gone through the same thing.
Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert/Katherine Pierce
At the opening of the series, Elena Gilbert is a regular high school girl who was mourning the loss of her parents. After the Salvatore brothers return to Mystic Falls, she comes across Stefan and initially falls in love with him, before entering their supernatural world, and becoming a vampire herself. Both brothers end up falling for her, with Elena ultimately choosing Damon, and the two going on to lead a happy life together. Dobrev also played Katherine, Elena’s dopplegänger vampire whose evil deeds are mainly motivated by self survival.
Nina Dobrev – in real life
Nina Dobrev was born in Bulgaria as Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva, but grew up in Canada. The actress became famous due to her role of the big-hearted Elena in The Vampire Diaries. She also had an off-screen romance with co-star Ian Somerhalder, which had their fans reeling, but ultimately ended. The actress has landed major roles in several movies since, such as action comedy Let’s Be Cops, and horror thrillers The Roommate, The Final Girls, and Flatliners.