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The following is a table for the seasonal rankings based on average total estimated viewers per episode of The Vampire Diaries.
"Rank" refers to how The Vampire Diaries rated compared to the other television series which aired during prime time hours.
Their relationship becomes increasingly complicated as Stefan's mysterious older brother Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) returns, with a plan to bring back their past lover Katherine Pierce, a vampire who looks exactly like Elena.
Although Damon is initially the villain and harbors a grudge against his brother for forcing him to become a vampire, he later reconciles with Stefan and falls in love with Elena, creating a love triangle among the three.
Sarah Hughes of The Independent says The Vampire Diaries turns into "a well-crafted, interestingly developed series" despite a poor opening episode.
The Vampire Diaries initially received mixed reviews, which through the course of the show improved greatly.
Metacritic gave the show a Metascore of 50 (out of 100) based on 22 critical reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
On April 6, 2015, lead actress Nina Dobrev confirmed via Instagram that she and co-star Michael Trevino (who plays Tyler Lockwood) would be leaving the show after its sixth season.
Dobrev returned to record a voiceover for the seventh-season finale.