Though ‘The Vampire Diaries’ kept the Elena-Salvatore brothers triangle from the books, many arcs were altered or never made it to the show at all.
In many ways, The CW’s The Vampire Diaries sticks close to its source material. However, many significant alterations were made to L.J Smith’s books when it was adapted into the television series by Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson. The changes are so big that had they not been made, the overall story on the series would have been drastically different.
So, with that said, let’s look at all of the original arcs that are a part of L.J Smith’s books, and how they would have altered the course of The Vampire Diaries as fans knew it.
ELENA IS THE MEAN GIRL
In The Vampire Diaries books, Elena is initially established as being vain, selfish and having a queen-bee complex. She is nothing like the nice, naive girl the series introduced. Not only is her appearance altered, but also her personality is very different because in the books Elena is like the highly sociable but compulsively self-centered Caroline Forbes introduced in Season 1.
When the books begin Elena’s story, more than three years have gone by since her parents passed away. In the show, their passing was rather recent and was a defining element in Elena’s vulnerable personality. But while book Elena gradually sheds her selfishness and is focused on saving those she loves at any cost, many have observed that the character increasingly becomes more self-seeking as the story progresses in the show.
CAROLINE IS AN OUT-AND-OUT VILLAIN
While in the series, Caroline Forbes is initially presented as an exceptionally vain and shallow person, she is still best friends with Elena. However, in the books, where both Caroline and Elena share similar traits, their rivalry runs so deep that it is a deal-breaker for their childhood friendship as Caroline is beyond jealous of Elena’s popularity.
When Stefan joined their high school, Caroline does take interest in him in both the book and the series. In the latter, she is barely miffed by Stefan’s interest in Elena, instead turning her attention to the elder Salvatore. In the books, on the other hand, Caroline gets so resentful and envious that Stefan chose Elena over her that she plotted to get revenge and even stole her former best friend’s personal diary with the agenda of exposing her personal thoughts to the whole town. So, one of the defining friendships in the series does not exist in the books and instead, Elena’s best friends are Bonnie and a reserved girl named Meredith.
CAROLINE BECOMES A WEREWOLF
In The Vampire Diaries, Caroline is turned into a vampire early on by Damon, and towards the end, she and Stefan even become a couple. However, in the books, Caroline becomes a werewolf after she gets pregnant with Tyler Lockwood. The two later get married and have two children, Lucas and Brianne. The series’ Caroline also gives birth to twins, but they are not her biological children — they had been transported to her womb by the Gemini Coven upon Jo’s death.
KATHERINE AND ELENA ARE SISTERS
In the books, Katherine Pierce retains her status as one of The Vampire Diaries’ most iconic villains, but instead of being a distant ancestor of Elena, she is her half-sister. In L.J Smith’s story, an immortal Angel Elizabeth Chamberlain married Baron Frederick Louis Karsten Edward Lawrence Von Schwarzschild in the year 1405 and had Katherine. Katherine was turned by Klaus, the village vampire in the books, when she was struck with a terminal illness. Sometime around the 1970s, Elizabeth married Thomas Gilbert, giving birth to two daughters — Elena and Margaret.
JEREMY DOESN’T EXIST IN THE BOOKS
In the TV series, after recently losing her parents, all Elena had in the world was her wayward teen brother, Jeremy, with whom she shared the strongest bond. In the books, though, Elena only had a much younger sister named Margaret, who mainly existed to present a rarely seen softer side of her elder sister’s selfish behavior.
ELENA IS HALF-HUMAN, HALF-ANGEL
In the books, As her mother was an angel who defected from Heaven and came to live on Earth, when Elena dies for the second time as a vampire, she is resurrected as a perfectly normal human, but with angelic superhuman abilities and powers. This makes her blood extremely irresistible to all supernatural creatures, including vampires. Elena was chosen by the Celestial Court as the replacement of her late mother, who was a Guardian. She is currently fulfilling her destiny by living on Earth as its Guardian and protecting humanity.
DAMON AND BONNIE HAVE ROMANTIC FEELINGS
At the heart of The Vampire Diaries, the crucial theme is the love triangle of Damon, Elena and Stefan. However, in the books, this trio also has a fourth member — Bonnie, the very witch who shares a love-hate relationship with Damon on the show. Though Damon grows to care for Elena’s best friend to the point that he allows her to take the cure for Enzo, that’s where the similarities between the books and the show end.
Throughout LJ Smith’s original plot, Damon and Bonnie have a romantic bond from the start — they even end up having a very intense kissing session when they first meet. While the book Damon also harbors strong emotions for Elena, he is also repeatedly shown to have very deep and tender feelings for Bonnie and even shares a magnetic yet tender connection with her. In fact, she is the first one to see his buried humanity and helps him embrace it.
KITSUNE, PHANTOMS AND ANGELS EXIST
By not including the part about Elena being a half-angel, The Vampire Diaries series sidesteps the drama of adding the celestial beings to its story. However, they were not the only supernatural beings that TVD decided to exclude. While the series added vampires, werewolves, witches, hybrids and ghosts to its original slew of mythical beings, creatures like shape-shifting foxes called Kitsune and phantoms– demons feeding off human emotions — never made it to the small screen.