Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Vampire Diaries just like Buffy?

The Vampire Diaries has been giving me some serious dejavu. I’ve heard a few remarks comparing TVD to Twilight, but these days anything with vampires in it is being compared to Twilight, which I don’t understand. Vampires existed in literature long before Twilight, not every vampire story that comes out is a Twilight rip-off, and certainly not TVD. There is no honest comparison that can be made between Twilight and TVD in my opinion, other than to say they are both vampire love triangles (and really Twilight is a “love-V” since there’s no love between Edward and Jacob). But there are some crazy comparisons to be made between my new favorite vampire drama, The Vampire Diaries, and my favorite show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now, to be completely fair TVD predates not only Twilight by over a decade, but also Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So, I’m in no way saying that L.J. Smith has ripped of Buffy (although I am comparing the shows here, not the books – so it may be possible that Buffy inspired some of the changes that have been made to the small screen version of the story). What I really want to point out is how these two shows were set up and that maybe in their similarities is a formula for success.

Blonde, cheerleader, just some girl who seems insignificant but turns out to be extraordinary…
Elena/Buffy: Both Elena and Buffy were spunky school girls who fell in love with vampires. Neither wanted to become vampires themselves and they dealt with all the drama of loving a man who would never die. Damon even called Elena “Buffy” in one episode, and while the Elena we know from TV isn’t blonde, her counterpart in James’ books is. Both Elena and Buffy put their friends and family first. They’re strong female leads willing to fight and at times even sacrifice themselves for the ones they love.

What makes Elena different: Evil Elena has been fun to watch on the show, and while Buffy had her bad moments even during her brief stint as a vampire she was good to the core. Elena’s character has been taken to a darker place than Buffy’s ever was and I enjoy that about TVD.

What makes Buffy different: She’s The Slayer. Elena was just a girl and often in need of saving whereas Buffy was the one doing most of the saving on BtVS. However, new vampire-Elena is stronger.

Dark, mysterious, brooding, vampire who turns into a psycho maniac if he loses control…

Stefan/Angel: Both Stefan and Angel were vampire protectors for the human girls they fell in love with. They both had dark histories they were trying to make amends for, both fighting against their very nature to be good. But, they also both slipped up at times. For Angel it was losing his soul that turned him into a deranged killer, for Stefan it was his overpowering bloodlust and shutting off his humanity.

What makes Stefan different: He’s not crippled by a curse that prevents him from ever being happy. He’s often brooding and serious but what I love about him is that he’s capable of having fun and being happy. This makes his character a little lighter and his relationship with Elena a little easier than it was for Buffy and Angel.

What makes Angel different: Stefan’s whole world seems to revolve around Elena whereas Angel was a bigger picture kind of guy. In the end Angel was going to do what was best for the whole world, in one episode he’s even cured of vampirism and made human, but he gives it up and gives up a chance to be with Buffy knowing he can make a bigger difference in the world as a vampire. Stefan on the other hand would gladly take the cure with Elena and be human with her so they could live out the rest of their lives.

Impulsive vampire bad-boy who stars out wanting to kill every one of our main characters, but ends wanting to be good…
Damon/Spike: Julie Plec called Damon their “Buffy” because of his snarky comebacks, but I think his character is much more in tune with another blue-eyed hottie – Spike, whose snarky commentary kept up with Buffy’s and created great sexual tension on the show. Much like what we see between Damon and Elena. Even the love triangle matches up perfect. Angel – Buffy – Spike, and Stefan – Elena – Damon.

The progression in character development of these two vamps followed a similar path. Both Spike and Damon were impulsive, selfish bad-boys who originally appeared on their respective shows as villains. Later they became allies with the good guys when it suited their needs, and then as they developed feelings for the heroine of the show they began to truly change their ways. Spike became a good man for Buffy just like Damon became a good man for Elena. It’s a story of redemption, and it’s our heroine’s love for them, and her trust and faith in them that changes them.

What makes Damon different: Damon is okay being the bad guy, and not that Spike wasn’t but Damon dealt with his guilt better. In Season 7 of Buffy we got to see a rather crazed, soul-full Spike who was ultimately being torn apart by his guilt. He truly wanted to be completely good. Damon has his guilt-ridden moments every now and then, but at the end of the day he accepts the bad things he has to do as necessary even if that means he’ll never completely be good. Damon never wanted to live up to anyone’s expectations, whereas Spike wanted to prove that he could be good.

What makes Spike different: Spike had an easier time connecting with the people around Buffy than Damon did with Elena’s friends. He quickly bonded with her mom, Joyce, and younger sister, Dawn, and put their protection and his care for them high on his list. Spike may have put all of Buffy’s friend’s lives in danger at one point or another, like when he kidnapped Willow and Xander, but he never actually killed any of them. Damon on the other hand didn’t even think twice about tearing into Elena’s circle. He turned Vicki, killed Alaric (multiple times) and even snapped her brother, Jeremy’s neck.

Witch, and best friend to the main character, who’s bargained with the spirits to bring a person back from the dead…

Bonnie/Willow: Willow was Buffy’s best friend, and a witch, just like what Bonnie is to Elena. They were both usually the level headed influence of the show, but also both had their dark sides as well. Currently Bonnie seems to be falling off the deep end with her magic much like Willow did in season 6 of Buffy. After the death of a significant other both Bonnie and Willow got a little scary, for Willow her magic became addictive with time, and we’ve seen small pieces of Bonnie’s magic taking control with her. Also in the books Bonnie was a red-head, just like Willow.  

What makes Bonnie different: Bonnie quickly develops into her own independent person on TVD, whereas Willow struggled to figure out who she was for much longer. Because of this Bonnie is often the voice of reason. She still makes bad decisions, but she’s much more grounded and stable than Willow was.

What makes Willow different: Willow realizes in season four that she’s a lesbian which added to the complexity of the things her character had to deal with.

Popular, blonde, airhead, turned vampire…
Caroline/Harmony: In season 1 on The Vampire Diaries Caroline was just as conceited and self-involved as another blonde cheerleader, Buffy’s Harmony. Also the relationship that Caroline and Damon have in season 1 of TVD is very similar to the relationship that Harmon and Spike have in seasons 4 and 5 of Buffy. However, at times I think Caroline is more like Buffy’s Cordelia, especially when you look at how her character develops over the seasons.
What makes Caroline different: Caroline grows up; she matures and becomes a more well-rounded person. Harmony on the other hand stayed pretty much an air-head through the shows entire run. She did grow some, but not to the extent that Caroline did. I loved that Caroline was a much deeper character than Harmony. No one ever really took Harmony seriously, but Caroline was a force to be reckoned with.
What makes Harmony different: Harmony never had the depth that Caroline did which also made her more bubbly. She often came across as a bit of a comic-relief, but her ditzy ways made you smile.

Loving, brother figure to the main character…
Jeremy/Xander: Xander may not have been Buffy’s brother, but he fell into a brotherly role with her as the series went on. Both Jeremy and Xander always wanted to be in the fight but Elena and Buffy were always trying to protect them. Even Jeremy’s relationship with Bonnie mirrors Buffy in regards to Xander’s relationship with Willow in season 3.
What makes Jeremy different: Jeremy became a hunter, developing his own set of supernatural powers, unlike Xander who remained completely human through the entire show.
What makes Xander different: Since Xander wasn’t Buffy’s actual brother the crush he had on her in the beginning of the series created an interesting dynamic. In some ways Xander may even be a little more like TVD’s Matt.

Mentor with a dark past...

Alaric/Giles: Alaric isn’t quite as old and stuffy as Giles was at times, but he does fall into this mentoring role with Elena that reminded me of Buffy’s relationship with Giles. Alaric even starts training Elena to fight, just like Giles did as Buffy’s watcher. They’re both also occasional drinkers with bad luck in the romance department.

Out of control party girl…
Vicki/Faith: Vicki’s untimely death means that we won’t know if her character will evolve like Faith’s did, but her careless attitude is very similar to the Faith from season 3 of Buffy. And both characters come from broken homes.

Villain who can take on the face of other characters to manipulate and confuse them…
Silas/The First: The First was the embodiment of all evil, and somewhat confusing to understand. Silas is an immortal warlock. What they have in common is their ability to look like anyone (well, any dead person in The First’s case) which causes some really emotional scenes as the big bad pretends to be a loved one of our characters.

Other noteworthy similarities:
  • Some of the dialogue in The Vampire Diaries closely resembles the quirky ways the characters of BtVS would speak.
    -Elena: "It's the fog, It's making me foggy. And then back there, there was this - this bird, and it was all very Hitchcock for a second. That is the bird movie, right, the Hitchcock? . . . I'm Elena.

    : "It's a doodle, I do doodle. You too! You do doodle too!"
    -Buffy: "I didn't say I'd never slay another vampire. It's not like I have all these fluffy bunny feelings for them, I'm just not going to get way extra-curricular with it." 
    -Spike: “Great love is wild and passionate and dangerous. It burns and consumes.”
    -Damon: “You want a love that consumes you. You want passion and adventure, and even a little danger.”
Obviously there are HUGE differences that remain between these two shows, but the connections between the characters is very similar, and if you have a complicated story you might want to look at the webs of characters for these two shows.

If you liked this post you may also enjoy Why We Love Vampires

or Finding Inspiration in TV's Sadest Moments


  1. I'm a total Buffy fan, but I started writing vamp books around the time The Vampire Diaries aired on TV, so I didn't follow the show. I enjoyed the compare and contrast post though. To me there hasn't been a show that fulfills both the fun banter and awesome characters. If they turn Rachel Caine's Morganville books into a TV series, I would tune in for sure.

    1. Buffy will always be my all time favorite. Everything about that show was amazing, and I agree there really hasn't been a show yet that can live up to it, but TVD just might.

      I've been obsessed with The Vampire Diaries like I was with Buffy back in the day, and actually I think some of the similarities with the shows are part of why I love it so much. The Vampire Diaries does, to some degree, capture the magic that Buffy had.

      I can understand not wanting to let your writing be influenced by a popular TV show, but if you ever find yourself writing in another genre check it out on Netflix or something becaues if you liked BtVS you'll like TVD.

      Also havn't read the Morganville Vampires series yet, but I'll bump it up my list.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. I love Buffy! That being said, I'll say TVD (the show not the books I have never read) "heavily borrows" from both Buffy and Twilight. The whole love triangle thing comes from Twilight and Twilight stole its brooding vampire from Angel. In fact, LJ Smith, the author of the series was fired because she didn't want to make the books more like Twilight. The publishers wanted Elena to end up with Stefan, though she is very fond of Damon, or something, like Edward, Bella and Jacob. Also, show Elena is very much like Bella rather than the book Elena who is initially this blond, unpleasant character. The show started off more Twilight-inspired, but after bad reviews they seemed to have improved. Most of the show's plots and sub-plots remind me of Buffy story lines, at least in essence. Also, I think it's a bit ridiculous to compare TVD to Buffy given that Buffy is much more superior and complex to TVD in terms of basically everything (plot, characterizations, acting). So TVD to me is more derivative of other works as Buffy and Twilight.

    1. I wouldn't say the whole love triangle thing comes from Twilight, as the TVD books were written way before Twilight and the love triangle is true to the books, but I do agree that there are aspects of the show which make me feel like they were trying to pull in the Twilight crowd (Making Elena a brunette for example). I do agree that Edward seems like he was inspired by Angel as well.

      Also, I did hear that about LJ Smith, and I think it's rather sad that she wasn't able to end her books the way she wanted. I kind of hope the show goes with her original ideas, but I'm also a Delena fan.

      I have to say I'm glad the show has gone a little more "Buffy", and I wouldn't say that TVD is inferior to BtVS, it's just a different show (even with the similarities). Buffy didn't focus on a love triangle it was more about every day life and growing up. TVD focuses a lot on relationships. Sometimes I feel like TVD's plot's are a little too fast pace - things change quickly on TVD. Buffy would set things up over longer periods of time, but I think TVD has some very talented actors just like Buffy did.

      Honestly I love them both, and I like Twilight too, but of course Buffy will always be my favorite.

    2. I realize this is a bit of an old article, but I agree with just about everything the author said. The only thing I would disagree with is that I think that Matt is a lot more similar to Xander. But other than that I think you're spot on.

      I also don't see any similarities between Twilight and TVD, it actually annoys me how often they're compared. I do see several similarities between BtVS and TVD though. Buffy will always be my all time favorite, but the more I watch TVD the more it's becoming one of my all time favorites as well. I feel like they do a better job with some of the subject matter and I feel like they do a better job at portraying how it would be if this was an actual reality. I think both shows definitely deserve praise.

  3. Sorry, but Buffy is and will always be ten times better. They took the time to hire good actors to play the roles, which is not the case with TVD. The Story line is more interesting. I stopped watching after three seasons TVD because it was getting worse with each episodes. The actors are so wooden, it hurts to watch. If they had better actors, I would like it.

    1. I appreciate your comments and opinion, but I have to respectfully disagree when it comes to the actors on TVD. I personally think Nina, Ian, Paul and the rest are very talented and have enjoyed watching their characters develop. Like I said, TVD and BtVS had different focuses in their storylines. I can see why you liked Buffy's storyline better, but I have enjoyed them both. Actually I've enjoyed TVD more each season. I haven't been hooked on a series like this since Buffy, and while TVD still falls second on my list, those are big shoes to fill.

      Thank you for commenting. I've enjoyed hearing your thoughts.

    2. Finally someone that sees the bad acting in TVD. It is painful! I watched all seven seasons of Buffy and I watched them more than once on DVD. I could not stomach TVD after two seasons. It could've been good with a better cast.

  4. I was thinking of comparing Matt with Xander myself since Xander started out with feelings for Buffy while Matt was the same for Elena, and now Matt's relationship with Elena is more brotherly. They also ended up later on with a 1000+ year old girlfriend (Rebekah=Anya?) Tyler's about the only character (of the current main cast) who doesn't seem to have a counterpart.

    1. I never thought about the Anya/Rebekah comparison. That's an interesting one. I'll agree about Tyler as well. I've heard other people compare him to Oz since they were both werewolves, but their personalities are nothing alike.

    2. I agree about matt and xander because not only were they both a 1000+ old vampire but also matt dated Caroline and xander dated Cordelia (who I think is a more comparable character to caroline). Xander and matt were also the human best friend of Buffy/elana and were in love with them in the beginning of the shows.

  5. Before I comment, let me offer a disclaimer: it's late, and my eyes are tired, so I may have missed something. If I point out something you already mentioned, I apologize.

    That said, I also consider Buffy my favorite show of all time (I've seen the entire series around ten times) and TVD my new favorite, so much so that I'm watching it (or, as much of it as Netflix allows) a second time through.

    I was wondering if you noticed these odd little similarities: In TVD, Jenna's last name is Sommers, pronounced just like Buffy's last name: Summers. Stefan is called a "ripper," which was Giles' nickname when he was a young badass. Also, to expound upon the Damon/Spike similarities: did you notice that both of them were rather punk-rockish in New York in the 70s?

    1. The ripper thing I picked up on, but I didn't make the Sommers/Summers connection. Also, I think I wrote this before Damon's 70's flashback episode aired, but those are all good points. Thanks for sharing them.

      Sometimes I wonder if the writers are maybe throwing in a little homage to Buffy. It's no secret that Julie Plec is a fan.

  6. I love BTVS and as I'd been watching TVD I have noticed this similitudes and even some more. In recent episodes of TVD the new plotline about the girls going to college and experimentation on vampires is very reminiscent of Buffy's season 4.

  7. Ironically TVD also has a spin off show just like Buffy does lol

  8. The Founders Council is a lot like the Watchers Council

    Elana has a twin vampire. Buffy had a twin robot.

    Tyler the werewolf. Oz the werewolf. (Both meet a female werewolf that come in between their girlfriends lol)

    Now all we need is for TVD to take on a secret government agency (The Initiative lol)

    1. I kind of thought the experiments that Dr. Wes had going on were very Initiative like.

    2. I just now started season 5 and yes I now see that Dr. Wes is basically a take on the Initiative! Talk about deja vu, I called it!

      This morning I watched Season 5 episode 1 and apparently Faith.... I mean Katherine is taking over Elena's body lol.

    3. Season 5 episode 11*

  9. Buffy will always be a classic. Once the Vampire Diaries is gone, it will be forgotten quickly. The difference between the two shows is that Buffy the Vampire Slayer had actors and actresses with talent and the Vampire Diaries would have been as good if they would've selected actors and actresses with talent. The vampire Diaries story line is interesting, but the bad acting ruined it for me. Being pretty does not make you talented and this show has proved exactly that.

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