Elena Gilbert may have been a part of The Vampire Diaries for only six seasons, but she was very much the emotional and romantic fulcrum of the show. She was the main character for all intents and purposes, holding the attraction of both the Salvatore brothers, the affections of her friends, and the wrath of almost every evil supervillain.
The elder Gilbert was indeed special, and her selflessness and humanity kept the show going. However, like all others, she had a long and eventful journey in Mystic Falls. Her character went through immense development from the fateful day she met Stefan in the school hallway, until her very enchanted coma and later revival.
Despite being in love with a vampire, Elena never wanted to become one. The allure was definite, with all the superpowers that vampires gain with the transformation, but Elena wisely quoted that her human form was the one she wanted to be in forever.
However, life had different plans for her, and in a bid to save Matt in the car accident orchestrated by Rebekah, she changed into a vampire. Her journey as a vampire was rocky and emotional, and it was clear why Elena never wanted to be one. It simply did not suit her.
As Elena adapted to her new life as a vampire, she had several obstacles in her path, the biggest being Connor the hunter. To save Jeremy, she ended up killing Connor, which was her first murder. The young Elena from season 1 would never have thought of harming a hair on someone’s head, let alone killing them.
After this, she was involved in several other killings, which included fledgling vamp Jesse, a waitress, Markos and the Travelers, as well as Alaric, even though he came back to life with the ring.
The Vampire Diaries was full of evil human characters, which was something Elena always wanted to avoid becoming. However, discovering the truth about vampires, witches, and all the other supernatural forces at work, she ended up being led down a darker path than her normal life.
At first, she rejected the idea when Stefan confessed to her and refused to partake, but by the sixth season, Elena was firmly entrenched in this magical world. It caused her a lot of pain and she was barely even alive because of it, but it became a part of her.
After her change to vampire, it seemed for a moment that Elena had grown comfortable with being an immortal. With her humanity off, Elena did some of the worst things in that time. Feeding indiscriminately, burning her home down, killing people, attacking her friends, and being all-round intolerable were chief among her crimes.
Being human and compassionate was Elena’s foremost trait, so seeing her without it was quite strange. However, she did manage to get back to it, and then ultimately took the cure and became human again in a rollercoaster of a storyline.
For human Elena in the first episode, death was permanent, and the passing of her loved ones tormented her. However, she herself died and came back to life several times over the years. Her first brush was when Klaus drained her to the point of death, but John Gilbert gave his own life force to keep her alive.
Then, Elena died underwater and came back to life as a vampire under Wickery Bridge, which was followed by her brief stint on The Other Side after she and Damon intentionally crashed into the Grill. Elena met her maker several times before her final, human death where she found peace with her family.
Between the Gilbert siblings, Elena was definitely a stickler for rules. She used to be strict with Jeremy about his drug use and tried to keep him in check as much as possible, but Damon’s loss broke a dam inside of her.
In her desperation, Elena went to Luke and started using hallucinogens so that she could be with Damon in her mind. It drove her out of control, and when she couldn’t use them anymore, she made Alaric compel away her memories of him in a rather impulsive and un-Elena-like fashion.
Tragedy plagued Elena since the first episode, and she was a lost young woman when Stefan entered her life. Getting through the day used to be challenging for the teen, but by the end of the show, she had fought the worst monsters, lost and grieved but came out winning on the other side.
One of Elena’s best traits was her resilience, which only grew as she became older and wiser. She used to be timid and afraid but started pulling her own weight in the fight against the bad guys.
Everyone in the show was deeply obsessed with keeping Elena safe, which meant that almost all of her friends had to sacrifice to keep her alive and healthy. One such character was Bonnie, who lost family, her magic, and even her place on Earth to keep Elena safe.
However, Elena did make things right by choosing to stay in her slumber than try to find a way out, or to make others choose her over Bonnie. She accepted her fate and that she would not see the witch again. She wished a happy life for everybody, especially her friend.
The biggest transformation that Elena went through was her change of heart. In season 1, it seemed clear that she and Stefan were endgame because Elena could not see beyond him, but her latent affections for Damon won out.
She was resolutely in love with the elder Salvatore by season 4, and that didn’t waver much until the end. Elena woke up to be with Damon, and she got to live her human dream life with the man she loved more than anyone else.
The tragic death of her parents haunted Elena, but sadly there was a lot more loss in store for her through the course of the show. Her birth father died to keep her alive, as did her birth mother. Klaus killed Jenna, and Jeremy was also dead for a while, which led Elena into a no-humanity bender.
She had almost no family left by the end of the show, so it was a good thing that she had chosen her friends wisely, as they stuck by her through thick and thin.
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