The untold truth of The Vampire Diaries

For a brief time in entertainment history, vampires were all the rage. Buffy, Twilight, and True Blood proved that audiences thirsted for vampire-human romance, so The CW capitalized on that craze with its adaptation of L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries novels. The series, which immediately claimed its own newfangled audience, became a major hit for the network, but it wasn't all sunshine rings and crows for this show. Here's the story you might not know about The Vampire Diaries.

It was almost a non-starter with the creatives

Kevin Williamson, a beacon of the teen scene thanks to Scream and Dawson's Creek, initially snubbed the idea of TVD. The writer-producer admitted his fear that it might be a "Twilight rip-off, no matter which [novel series] came first," due to the ultra similar premises: small-town girl falls for impossibly handsome boy who just so happens to be a secret vampire, and she kind of digs his undeadness.

It was co-creator Julie Plec who changed his mind about that, though, and convinced him to check out Smith's novels before giving it a hard pass. "I began to realize that it was a story about a small town, about that town's underbelly and about what lurks under the surface." Williamson responded to the central character's struggle with grief from the loss of her parents and that there was a sense of "hopelessness" about her situation that could really resonate with the Dawson's Creek crowd. That dramatic distinction was ultimately enough for him to put his stamp on the effort.

Casting sliding doors

Nina Dobrev made a household name for herself by becoming Elena Gilbert (then Katherine Pierce, then the third doppelganger, Amara), but she was almost not the face of the series. The network's first choice for the role was actually singer-actress Ashlee Simpson. Yep. Dobrev only won the role after producers gave her audition a second look-see and determined that she was a better fit.

Also interesting: before Ian Somerhalder earned his nickname "Ian Smolderholder" for his work as the steely-eyed Damon Salvatore, future co-stars Paul Wesley, Zach Roerig, and Michael Trevino were all among those who tried out for the role, too. They eventually earned their own memorable and long-lived characters on the series, of course, but Somerhalder as Damon is show canon, so it's hard to imagine any of them in his place.

Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble

The pilot for The Vampire Diaries was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the Twilight Saga films were shot (it was filmed during the brief break between production on New Moon and Eclipse, the second and third installments to that franchise). However, the rest of production has taken place down in Covington, Georgia, and it was there that the cast found themselves in a little bit of a legal snare shortly after the series premiered.

Just a day after the pilot hit the small screen, several of the series' cast members (including Nina Dobrev, Candice Accola, Kayla Ewell, and Sara Canning) were reportedly arrested for naughtily distracting drivers on a freeway during a photo shoot with photographer Tyler Shields. Although reports initially indicated that they may have been flashing traffic as well, Ewell later vehemently denied that that's what went down during the incident, and the first season ratings remained strong despite the hubbub.

The spin-off was almost very different

Due to the initial success of The Vampire Diaries, The CW began to entertain the idea of a spin-off series right away, settling on a fall 2011 date (just two years after the show's initial airing) as the hopeful premiere window. Williamson, who'd previously planned to do a college campus-set paranormal investigation sister series, became involved with his now-defunct The Secret Circle instead of moving forward with the follow-up idea. So, those plans were postponed until Plec picked up the torch and carried forward with her idea for The Originals, which carried over several of TVD's own secondary characters as a companion series and aired in October 2013.

Real-life relationship drama

It's not uncommon for a show which involves so much physical and emotional passion to transpire into some unexpected off-screen romance, but with The Vampire Diaries, there have been an unusual amount of real-life couplings to happen amidst its cast … for better, and for worse.

Dobrev and Somerhalder, for one, proved that their on-screen chemistry as the ultra-shippable Delena duo was inspired by some real-life heat between the actors, who stepped out together on multiple occasions throughout the summer of 2011 to confirm their rumored relationship. It was all well and good for a while between the two as art imitated life and vice versa, but when they broke up in real-life and had to continue doing love scenes for the show, things got a little awkward. The pair poked fun at their dramatic dilemma at the 2014 People's Choice Awards, so they seemed to be keeping it civil. But after Somerhalder married Dobrev's former friend Nikki Reed, it wasn't long 'til Dobrev announced her departure from the series. (Dobrev has said she's happy for the newlyweds, though.)

Theirs wasn't the only cast coupling to go south while the cameras were still rolling. Wesley's real-life wife, Torrey DeVitto (who stars in Pretty Little Liars), also joined the cast in a recurring role before the two split, and her character counterpart suddenly took her leave of Mystic Falls. After their separation, he began to date the show's guest actress Phoebe Tonkin, who now stars in its sister program The Originals. Meanwhile, Accola and Roerig were once an item for a brief period of time early on in the series — although they've both since moved on — and, in the happiest bit of news, actor Joseph Morgan also found love on the set of the show with actress Persia White, who had a brief recurring role in the show, and the two married in 2014.

Other off-screen parallels

Budding and busted romances weren't the only true life takeaways from the show. When Accola got pregnant with her first child with guitarist Joe King, the show also wrote in her onscreen surrogate pregnancy to explain her growing baby bump. There was also a fire at the real-life set of the Mystic Grill (a building that also houses a local law firm), which was a little spooky considering the show had previously torched its fictional version of the setting the season before.

DC Comics gave the series the animated treatment

As a result of its cult popularity, DC Comics launched a series of comic books based on The Vampire Diaries, releasing the first in October 2013. The books, which branch off into their own non-canon story lines surrounding the show's characters, concluded with Chapter 39 in 2014.

The Somerhalder shutdown

The actor accidentally preempted the show's end date announcement when he told reporters that The Vampire Diaries' eighth season would be its final run. Seeing as the network hadn't yet confirmed the same at the time, the actor had to eat his words a little bit and backtracked to say that he was merely speaking for himself. Ultimately, though, the showrunners confirmed the same with the news that Season 8 would indeed be the final stand for TVD.