10 Differences Between The Vampire Diaries Books & Show

The Vampire Diaries is a huge hit TV show based on books that are just as popular. L.J. Smith’s novels were first published in 1991 and they continued to grow from there. The television show premiered in 2009 and stars Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder.  The books and the show have the same basic premise – two vampires are in love with a teenage girl. Yet, while the basics are similar, fans of L. J. Smith’s books can’t help but point out the differences between the Vampire Diaries’ books and the TV show. So this one is for you guys, here’s a list of some of the big differences between the two:

1. One big thing that every fan of the book can’t stand is the hair issue. In the books, Elena is fair and blonde, but in the show she is a brunette. Fans were crying foul before the show even aired.

2. The name of the town. In both the show and books, it’s a small town in Virginia founded before the Civil War. But, the show calls the town Mystic Falls, while in the book it’s called Fell’s Church. The show does feature a Fell’s Church, but it’s just a structure in the cemetery.

3. In both, Elena lives with her aunt after the death of her parents. However, in the book the aunt’s name is Judith. In the show it is Jenna.

4. Another big BIG difference is Elena’s family. In the book, Elena has a four-year-old sister named Margaret. In the show she has a teenage brother named Jeremy. HUGE difference there.

5. In the book, Elena’s parents have been dead for three years when the story starts. But in the show, they had just died.

6. In the show, Elena learns that she is adopted and a descendant of Katherine’s. The book never explained why she looks so much like Katherine.

7. There are a whole lot of friend changes in the show as well. Elena’s best friend in the books, Meredith Sulez, plays a big role in the story. But, she isn’t in the show at all. Then there’s Bonnie McCullough, who in the books, is a tiny little redhead. In the show, her name is changed to Bonnie Bennett and she is an African American. In both, Bonnie has magical powers, but in the books she is descended from druids, in the show she is descended from the Salem witches.

8. Matt, Elena’s ex, went through a change too. His last name changes from Honeycutt in the book to Donovan in the show. In the book, Vickie isn’t his sister. But Matt’s last name isn’t the only one changed. Tyler’s last name is originally Smallwood, not Lockwood.

9. The Damon, Stefan and Katherine love triangle is also significantly different in the show and books, but it’s far too complicated to explain here. The whole vampire history is different.

10. In the show, Stefan doesn’t drink human blood (except when he lost control that one time), but in the books he drinks Elena’s blood in an intimate kind of way.

What other differences have you guys noticed between the books and the TV show? Let us know in a comment below.

– Moonlight

By Moonlight

Moonlight (aka Amanda) loves to write about, read about and learn about everything pertaining to vampires. You will most likely find her huddled over a book of vampire folklore with coffee in hand. Touch her coffee and she may bite you (and not in the fun way).

130 replies on “10 Differences Between The Vampire Diaries Books & Show”

1. In the show the Salvators own the boarding house. In the books a old witch owns it (can’t remember her name) and Stefan is just a guest.

2. Caroline becomes some kind of Were creature and not a vampire.

3. Caroline and Elena are enemies in the book but close friends in the book.

4. Vickie is never turned into a vampire in the book only in the show.

5. Bonnie in the book is a lot more timid than the one in the show.

6. There are no “tomb” vampires in the book. Katherine, in the book, supposedly killed herself because of her coming between the brothers. In the show Katherine and a bunch of other vampires were looked into Fell’s Church and burned, or so it was thought until they discovered there was a tomb under the church and thats where all the vampires went except Katherine who turned a guy so he would let her go.

7. In the book Katherine at the beginning didn’t drink from humans and was a nice girl but after seeing the brothers kill each other and spending time with Klaus she grew evil. In the show she is evil from day 1.

8. In the book the Salvator bros are over 500 years old. In the show they are about 180.

There is more but I can’t think of it now.

Dark Shogun

Maybe I misspoke about the “were” part since by definition a “were” can change from one form to another and back again either by full moon or at will. The creature part stands though. In the book she is turning into something that not human or vampire.

Dark Shogun

I wasn’t talking about Elena. I was talking about the creature that Caroline is turning into. Elena does come back from death as some kind of higher being thought. Almost an Angel.

Dark Shogun

Actually, caroline turns to a werewolf because Tyler got her pregnant so the “puppies” are turning her into a werewolf, which comes out in The Return: Nightfall or The Return: Shadow Souls, not 100% on that, but it’s definitely one of them

Yeah, there’s a lot of differences. I really have no idea where the show is going after last week’s episode and how much that deviates from the books. It makes me a little sad, though I still find the show interesting and fun to watch.

In the book Elena’s eyes are also like peircing blue. There’s other stuff but I’m not even going to waste my time. I will never watch the show, I hate when people take from amazing books and make it into a movie or show and twist it until it’s nothing anything like the books. Hate it. Rawr!

yes, the show is great. but i am excited to read the books based on your complaints to the show. and i am terribly concerned about the way you speak “shorty”

I think it is actually a semi good thing that the story deviates from the book. Think about it this way. You may hate it because it isn’t like the book but what if they made it like the book and messed that up? What if the actors that looked like the characters in the book couldn’t act worth crap? Than again they may have done a great job on making the book into a show exactly. But than from the point of view of a person that has read all the books would it be interesting at all knowing exactly whats going to happen and when?


Dark Shogun

i dnt mind them changing the story because its interesting to not expect things but did they seriously hav to turn elena into a brunette i mean ive got nothin against brunettes im a brunette but i think they’re just copyin twilight in tht note they should hav kept her blonde! i luv damon but stefan just looks like a wannabe edward!

In regards to Elena being a brunette, I think they went with the actresses hair color. I think it they found a blond that worked the role as well or better they probably would have casted her. Only options for the current actress is to wear a wig for each shoot or dye her hair. A blonde wig MAY not look to good with her and dying her hair could make it fall out like with Nikki Reed (Rosalie) from twilight.

I think stefan probably looks like edward to you because they both brood a lot. I think edward is a bit more protective of bella than stefan is of elena. Honestly I think stefan has a better time of things in general than edward does. He (stefan) isn’t as uptight.

Dark Shogun

i was so pissed when i saw that elena in the show was not a blonde…but then again..
nina dobrev acts so well…
i don’t think they could’ve found an actress being able to play the two characters so well and keeping such a big difference in the multiple personalities….

I do agree but as i hav not read the books n jst watching the show…. Still i lov it… Nd most appreciable is damon’s style aswellas luk. Nd yes his expressions… Jst awesome…

I actually beileve Stephanie Meyer (author of twilight) stole from The Vampire Diaries BOOKS. The first Vampire Diaries book came out in 92 LOONGG before The twilight saga. There’s so many things that are similar like Stephens hatred of what he is and wanting to be human with his teenage love that he’s DRAWN to and is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Lots of other little things too I won’t waste time going into detail about. One thing was the werewolf thing.. I’m not sure if there was a book previous to the vampire diaries that had Vampires vs. Werewolves thing but if not another thing skimmed from L.J. Smiths books for Meyers own personal credit.

I don’t think Stephenie Meyer stole from L.J. Smith – Meyer’s books are just completely unoriginal on their own, which is why everyone thinks they’re stolen from this person or that person. I don’t think she directly stole from anyone, she’s just not a creative writer.

Ok, so I absolutely l.o.v.e. the show, and I’m just starting to read the books. But, to be honest, I’m having a really hard time getting into the books. I think Elena is kind of a B, and its driving me nuts that she and Stefan haven’t even spoken but I’m a third of the way through the first book. Someone, please tell me the books get better???

It (the book series) starts off with Elena being a complete B. She doesn’t stay that way past the first book, I believe. I have read all of them but not in a while. In one of the books she is SUPER friendly :-).

In the show Elena starts out friendly because I think a show with the main character as a straight up B from jump wouldn’t do too while, unless it’s like 90210 or Gossip Girls or something.

Dark Shogun

I’ve start reading the books in Belgium, only the first four books are out here, I’ve got the same probleme that I found it hard to get into the books. its so different and what I’ve red well … I don’t quite like the books as much as the series … but maybe that’s because I saw the series first.

Hey cn u jst say me the episode 16 of season 3, i.e, 1912 part is compared to which part in the book n wts the title of the book?

i actually bought all of the books. they are soo boring i read the first one and by the time i finished it was too late to return the rest :( the tv show is much better than the books which is rare but it really is.

There is an isobel (sp?) but she is high school age and isn’t a vampire. Isn’t she the one that got killed at Carolines’ house? Isn’t she the one Tyler killed to become a werewolf?

Dark Shogun

I’ll take your word for it but there is still an Isobel in the book. I am trying to remember where I saw her. Is she the asian girl that did all those piercings?

Dark Shogun

“Bite Me” I am not going to argue with you. Read “The Vampire Diaries – The Return: Shadow Souls”. Read the part where Meredith and Bonnie go to Caroline’s house and her mom takes the food up to her room. After that Meredith and Bonnie go in the room and talk to Caroline in the dark and describe how she is changing. I have the books on Kindle. Look for the line in the book (best to find an ebook so you can search)

“We visited Isobel at the hospital, yes”
“Her tongue will heal, Caroline. She may have scars from all the places she pierced herself, but she’s going to be able to talk again just fine.”

Doing my rereading I discovered that Isobel is in FACT the asian girl that was giving herself piercings and split her tongue. Her grandma was the old asian priestess.

As far as Caroline goes here is some description:

“There were–gray threads–in Caroline’s hair. Gray hairs, Bonnie thought. They shone dully, much lighter than the flaming auburn Caroline was so proud of. And there were…other hairs that didn’t shine at all. Bonnie had seen this brindled coloration on dogs; she knew vaguely that some wolves must look the same. But it was really something else to see them in your girlfriend’s hair. Especially when they seemed to bristle and quiver, lifting like the hackles of a dog…”

Now that I reread this I remember that Caroline is pregnant with Tylers babies (twins) and it is turning her into a werewolf but not controllable like Tyler. They stated in there when a werewolf knocks up a human female they have a 50/50 chance of becoming a werewolf because of pregnancy.

“Bite Me” if you won’t believe me ask of people. As the people that run this site or reread THAT book. I can’t post all of what I read because of copyright laws but I just wanted to show examples.

Dark Shogun

i noticed in the t.v. series when they first introduce Damon he has a crow that follows him but in the book series he turns into the crow not the crow is like hos minion.





Uh, this is a vampire website dedicated to all things about vampires. Therefore, we will talk about anything vampire related. Obviously. Personally, I think that people like you that bitch to others need to get a life. How about instead of telling us to enjoy nature, you get off your ass, stop complaining to us and take your own advice.

I think the show is doing a good job and its not bad
that they’re switching it up a bit, to tell you the truth its better that
way cause the people that stick with the book storyline, won’t have
to worry about being bored ‘Knowing’ what will come next.
I like that Damon has piercing blue eyes in the show :) wow.
and are we seriously going to argue about the fact that
Elena isn’t blonde on the show? BIG deal. Nina is doing such a great job.

I agree, Nina is fantastic. Plus everyone that reads the books say that Elena is a bit of a bitch, I’m glad they didn’t do that on the show. :)

As in the show katherine is made fully bitch…. So i thnk no requirement making or showing elena again a bitch… Elena is only pissing of in all the situations nd jst trying to make evrythng alrite always…. In the show……..

another difference I’ve noticed is that Caroline and Elena are best friends on the show but in the books they are worst enemies. And Elena is the only one who kept a journal in the book series but both Stefan and Elena keep a journal on the show. Also there wasn’t all of this on again off again stuff with Elena and Stefan in the books; only on the show.

So I stumbled across this page and decided to read everyones comments and “Dark Shogun” I think you know your stuff…lol I was wondering if you could give me a little advise? So I read all of the Twilight books before I watched the movies and noticed some differences but nothing to drastic. I was wondering since there are ALOT of crazy changes in The Vampire Diaries if would recommend ready the books? Ohhh and another thing I wish Paul Wesley would gain some weight!!!!

Vampire Girl I would absolutely recommend you read the books. Now as you stated the difference in the Twilight books and movies are very slim. The Vampire Diaries books are waaaaaaaaaaay different than the show, at least so far. It is nice to compare things and see how they vary. I just finished (about a month ago) all the Sookie Stackhouse novels and they are way different also.

Dark Shogun

can anyone say for the vague storyline, which season matches with what book? I don’t want to read ahead of the episodes…almost done book 1, is that like season 1? just a little confused! thanks

After watching the show (I’m not that much into vampires, but I ABSOLUTELY loved it) I got a friend to lend me the first book. I seriously couldn’t get into it. I found it quite ridiculous :(.

She talked to him like twice and was like: I LOVE HIM. OMG. HE’S GONNA BE MINE. HE’S GOTTA BE MINE. The whole thing was so blew out of proportion, in my opinon.. .. And she’s so full of herself and not nice.
{Matt, you should’ve punched her! She even started a rumor about being with that semi-naked french man during the summer (and since everyone’s so obsessed with gossip in this book, they must’ve all gone around saying she’d cheated on you..) Yet you befriend the guy she’s now obsessed with?!}
And Stefan + Fell’s Church + Katherine’s clone + Coincidence = NO. I found the way they tied it all together in the show brilliant.

I usually prefer the book to the movie, but in this case it’s the opposite. The show is amazing. The actors are great and have amazing chemistry. Every episode is packed with action/content, they keep introducing new characters/stuff, yet it’s not confusing at all.

I understood the reason Elena was blonde in the book; in the 1500 in Europe “beautiful” and “blonde” were twin words – blonde hair, white skin, white teeth -light-angels-god- you got it. And I understood the reason they chose a brunette for the show; Caroline/her mom and Vicky and Jenna and Lexi are all blonde, we seriously didn’t need an other one.

As for Bonnie.. well it’s America. It’d be weird if there were no African Americans. And there weren’t any (not that I’m aware of) in the book. I guess they just wanted to fix that.

There ARE some affinities with Twilight (the vegetarian diet, the werewolves, the obsessive love, and Bella is like the exact opposite of the Elena in the books, coincidence?) but even more than that.. the books reminded me of Buffy:

Blonde strong popular main character: Check
Vampire boyfriend who hates himself: Check
Redhead witch bestfriend: Check

And I’m done.. I don’t really know what the point of this way too long comment is, but whatever.

It’s not a coincidence that they’re all there at the same time (Katherine, Stefan, Elena). Fells church has the ley lines so Katherine is attracted to the town. She then puts it in Stefan’s mind to go there. It was icing on the cake for Katherine to discover Elena at this huge crossing of ley lines.

Thanks for the list! I think it’s great! I do like how they’re changing it up, that way people can read the books without being worried about knowing what’s going to happen in the show, or vice versa. Personally, I haven’t read the books, and am debating whether I should or not… I think I’m afraid that I won’t like it because it is so different, and will get bored. Any suggestions?

A couple comments upon comments that I didn’t bother to comment upon while reading through said comments:
It really doesn’t matter to me if the person is blonde/brunette, white/African american, etc. As long as their basic roles stay the same, I think it’s fine. After looking through comments, it’s obvious Elena’s a B in the books, but I’m glad they switched it up, I think it probably got the show rolling quicker than the book did.

I got a little confused about Elena’s and Caroline’s relationship. Like I said, I have not read the books, but in the show they seem to be friends, but at the same time distant. As in, they hang out and all, but Caroline seems to be really jealous of Elena.

About your original post, Moonlight, it explains more about the whole Katherine/Elena looking alike bit. I’m guessing you posted this before the whole sacrifice/doppelganger thing, but they are basically reincarnations of some previous person, whose sacrifice would undo the sun curse.

…And I think that’s all I have to say.

~Alice </3

Weirdly when I read the book my image of elena was basically how caroline looks in the series :)

When I watched the series for the first time I was also reading the books so at first I felt it was difficult to get past the differences but now I love them both

Annoyingly I missed like the last half of a series or something ridiculous of the tv show so now I’m confused about what’s going on :( I’ll have to buy the DVD’s I s’pose.
Now I tune in from time to time to check out ian somerhalder ;]
Couldn’t imagine a better person to play damon tbh…gotta love those smouldering eyes ;D

Did anyone fo bk n read Stephens dairies. Mystic falls is where they begin with last names of main characters of show so I am lost as why the difference begins with the hunter series is this a part of the writers change tho only those that read these specific books will know my question as I’m what over a century away from Elena as I finished six, where to now? I began reading bc of the books of The Originals early years, finished and needed more similar writing
Please advise me …

I just started reading the books cause i’ve watched all of season one and loved it. But i really can’t get into the books because Elena is just so … bit**y. And there are just so many differences that i dont like. It’s just weird.

The books and the show are definitely very different. I think the books are a lot more… scifi and a bit weirder ( we all know its kinda true ) I read the books before the show came out and I liked them, for the most part. I remember sitting there after the pilot just like “wow”. I really love the show and I can enjoy the books. You don’t have to compare them, they are so different. The show takes the characters ( for the most part) and builds a different world around them. Also Dark shogun was defiantly right about Caroline like went all demented and I think she crawled under her bed crab style (scared the crap out of her mom), not sure but the whole time i was reading that part I kind of felt like it could be an exoticism scene. And I just realized I never finished Midnight. Oh. How many of these are they going to write O_O. (someone tell me if they are worth it I read somewhere the next ones aren’t even by L.J. Smith because alloy entertainment like made her stop writing them.)

Yeah there is a ghost writer for the newer books. I haven’t read the newer stuff yet. Kinda scared to be let down. I’m pretty easy to please but when you take someone elses work, something they established, and have someone else take their place it has the very real possibility to suck.

Dark Shogun

Yeah I’m worried about that too. Makes me feel kind of bad for L.J. too. Those books must have been like her children.

It’s as simple as this: if you watched the show first you will hate the books. If you read the books first then you will absolutely love the books. My sister hated the books cause she watched the show first. Me not being a tv watcher decided to read the books and I must say I’m obsessed and fight with my sister all the time. Plus I know that the books are wayyyy scary. Like don’t read in the middle of the nIght scary. I didn’t expect them to be like that. It’s a weird mix of scary supernatural stuff.

for me this codes a tad to late, i already read it midnight because i can never sleep and than i always read the boom im Reading at that moment. Worst idea ever

Not the case, I read the books first and hated them (which is why I was reluctant to watch the show). But when I saw the show, I was hooked from episode one. The show took the books and made them 100x better. But that’s probably just my opinion.

I thought the books were terrible too, Marissa, and I completely agree. The books were poorly written and the continuity was all over the place.

I read the books first too. I stopped after the 2nd one….I just couldn’t finish. But I watched the shows and was hooked!

heja everyone

i noticed aswell and katherine in the book is from germany and i think the katherine in the show is from bulgaria or somehwhere like that.

Yeah there are so many differences. I’m sort of over them now though. But the second writer of the books is SO much better that LJ Smith. I’m sorry. Love LJ but it’s true.

It’s pretty apparent all the comments left here are by people who didn’t first read the original trilogy and Dark Reunion (i.e. the original four books published between 1991 and 1993) BEFORE seeing the show. The newer additions to the VD literary canon (i.e. Nightfall, etc.) don’t count for purposes of book v. TV comparisons because they were written either concurrently to the show’s production, or soon before, in preparation for the release of the TV show.

I was one of the original fans of LJ Smith, part of her target demographic (young teen girls in the early 1990s). I read the first two VD books, The Awakening and The Struggle, when the latter was released in 1992. I’ll never forget taking them off the shelf in the Waldenbooks and having an older teen girl (she looked around 17 or so) say, “Oh, now THOSE are really good. You should read those, seriously.” Teen horror was a very vibrant genre in the 80s and early 90s. I’m not talking about processed, ghostwritten series like RL Stine’s “Fear Street,” but original works by people like LJ Smith, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Christopher Pike. These were writers who had the chops to make it in mainstream fiction but chose to write for the Young Adult market because it was where their heart was.

Those of you who are complaining that the books are boring, weird, or Elena’s too aggressive and demanding, here’s my commentary:

— Boring: you’ve been de-sensitized by TV and movies. The original VD trilogy isn’t even anywhere close to being among my favorite LJ Smith books, yet as a writer myself, I can tell you that they are examples of very clean, streamlined, effective plotting. You get from point A to point B in exactly the right amount of page-time, with exactly the right amount of character development. It’s very well-edited fiction. If you get bored that quickly or easily while reading the first novel, check your own attention span, because it might be the culprit.

— Weird: you are most likely referring to the recent additions to the VD canon, like Nightfall; the stuff published in the 2000s. That stuff’s junk, sorry. LJ Smith’s writing and plotting skills have unfortunately atrophied over her 10+ year hiatus from publishing. Some of the stuff in her new books is just completely off the wall silliness. You cannot compare the books to the TV show if you aren’t sticking to the original 3 books plus Dark Reunion. Those are the only ones that count.

— Elena: This is one of the ways that LJ’s books stood out from the crowd in the early 90s. In the 80s and 90s, series like Sweet Valley High and The Babysitter’s Club presented only candy-sweet “good girls” as our role models and heroines. LJ took a risk by writing a female protag who was aggressive, demanding, and had a high opinion of her own looks and social value. Unfortunately, most people are trained by society’s effed-up sexist ideals to think of such women as “bitches.” The same behavior in men is accepted and called “confidence” and “swagger.” Again, check your own reactions and ask yourself why you react so strongly to the character of Elena in the original trilogy. And note that in addition to the aforementioned traits, she’s also a loyal friend and a courageous champion for others who aren’t as bold or as capable as she.

And guess what: Elena’s not even my favorite character in the VD trilogy, and she’s among my least-favorite characters in all of LJ’s books. But that’s not because she’s aggressive or demanding; it’s more a function of the fact that VD was Smith’s first series and her characterization skills improved in later series.

Personally, I’m not planning on ever watching the show. I’m not interested in vampires in of themselves; I’m interested in creative and intelligent storytelling, which is what LJ Smith USED to be all about (her latest work in the 2000s is positively dismal, sad to say). To the extent that the VD show doesn’t follow LJ Smith’s creative vision from the original trilogy, it’s not worth my time. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good show on it’s own, though. I’m glad you guys seem to be enjoying it.

I hope this gives you some insight if you are approaching the books from the perspective of someone who saw the TV show first (or, heaven forbid, read Nightfall or some of the other recent rubbish first).

Always check the original copyright on any LJ Smith book you buy. If it’s from the 80s or 90s, you’re safe. It’ll be some of the more creative and memorable young adult fiction out there.

I was also a original reader. Can’t stand the series. Same with A Secret Circle and God I hope Forbidden Game doesn’t become a series. I miss the old writing.

Just so you know, LJ Smith didn’t write any of the Vampire Diaries books that were published in the 2000s. All of the Nightfall, Phantom, Destiny Rising, and Salvation books were written by ghost writers due to the fact that LJ Smith had disagreements from lack of freedom to take the story where SHE personally wanted with her publishing Co and refused to finish the series. Fans of the book series bombarded the publishing Co wanting the concluding stories therefore they hired anonymous ghost writers who wrote the rubbish stores you speak of. I’d hate for anyone to think that someone as talented and imaginative as LJ Smith actually wrote those obsurd novels. Also, I just wanted to say I agree with you wholeheartedly that the books written by L.J. are fantastic and are so much better than the show. I do watch the show myself, I actually own every season on DVD. I mainly began watching the show just to see how much would be changed from the books but surprisingly, I got hooked on the show. It’s actually quite good in its own way if you look at it the way I do which is it’s a TV series that just happens to share the same name as the books. The name and the fact there’s 2 vampire brothers in love with Elena who looks like their ex Katherine is the only similarly. I just see them as 2 totally separate beings and that helped in giving the show a charge which I’m really glad I did. I might also add that if I had imagined Damon while reading the books, it would be Ian Somerhalder who plays Damon on the TV show. He’s perfectly Damon! They really did hit the nail on the head casting Ian as Damon and he absolutely makes the show. :)

I haven’t read the books yet, but I do plan on reading them eventually. People do have to realize that the series is BASED on the books, not an adaption. When a movie/series is based on a series of novels or even just one novel, the writers of the movie/series take aspects of the book storyline and then build something different. The series is awesomely amazing in my opinion.

I hope my memory serves me right, its been a while but….i don’t remember Elena ever being adopted in the books like she ways in the show. yea, she lived with her aunt and her parents were dead but she wasn’t adopted….right????

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