Returning for its fourth season, The Vampire Diaries is the story of two vampire brothers, obsessed with the same girl, in a small town where supernatural beings live in secret amongst its residents.
In Season 1, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), returned to their hometown of Mystic Falls, Virginia, for very different reasons.
Stefan was determined to get to know Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who bears a striking resemblance to Katherine Pierce (also played by Dobrev), the beautiful but ruthless vampire the brothers knew and loved — in 1864.
Damon, on the other hand, was intent on releasing Katherine from the tomb where he believed she was trapped by a witch's spell all those years ago. The explosive season finale set a plan in motion that resulted in Katherine's return.
In Season 2, Katherine's appearance threw a wrench into the Stefan/Elena/Damon love triangle. The brothers later faced their greatest challenge yet — the arrivals of Elijah (guest star Daniel Gillies) and Klaus (Joseph Morgan), two of the powerful "Original" vampires.
Klaus was seemingly focused on breaking the "Sun and Moon" curse by sacrificing Elena. Ultimately, Klaus' sacrifice ritual proved deadly not for Elena but for her Aunt Jenna (Sara Canning), whose violent death devastated both her family and her boyfriend, Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis), who had also become a trusted friend and guardian to Elena and her brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen).
Season 3 revealed the history of Klaus and The Original Family, as well as the surprising friendship Klaus and his sister Rebekah (guest star Claire Holt) shared with Stefan decades earlier.
Klaus' return led to Stefan's descent back to his violent "Ripper" ways. Elena and Damon worked to bring Stefan back from the edge, even as they struggled with the guilt of their growing bond.
Meanwhile, Klaus found himself irresistibly drawn to Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), forcing her boyfriend, the werewolf Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino), to break his sire-bond to Klaus and claim Caroline as his own.
A new threat to the Original siblings came from their own mother, Esther (guest star Alice Evans), who was determined to rid the world of the plague of vampires.
Using witchcraft and the unwilling help of Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham), Esther turned Alaric into a powerful vampire whose only mission was to hunt down and destroy other vampires – the ultimate vampire hunter. Esther also linked Elena's life to Alaric's, making it impossible to kill Alaric while Elena is alive.
In the chilling season finale, Elena's longtime friend Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig) tried to get Elena out of town to keep her safe, but Rebekah took matters into her own hands and caused Matt's truck to plunge off a bridge, trapping Matt and Elena underwater.
Despite Stefan's attempts to save them both, he was only able to get Matt to the surface in time, and Elena drowned, causing Alaric's death as well.
Devastated by this unthinkable loss, Stefan, Damon and all their friends soon discover another horrible truth – thanks to the well-meaning efforts of Dr. Meredith Fell (guest star Torrey DeVitto), Elena died with vampire blood in her system.
Season 4 begins with the knowledge that everything is in transition. Elena faces her worst nightmare when she awakens after the accident and finds she must now endure the terrifying transition to become a vampire – or face certain death.
Stefan and Damon are torn even further apart over how to help Elena adjust to a life she never wanted, and everyone has to cope with the chaos Alaric created when he outed the vampires and their supporters to the Mystic Falls Council and local church leaders.
Despite everything that has happened to them, as Elena and her friends enter into the final stretch of high school before graduation sends them off on different paths, they feel the bond to their home town of Mystic Falls take on a deeper meaning when a new mysterious villain is introduced who seems intent on destroying it.
Based on the series of books by L. J. Smith, The Vampire Diaries is from Bonanza Productions Inc., Outerbanks Entertainment and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios with executive producers Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy.