|The Vampire Diaries character|
|First appearance||The Awakening (novel)
|Created by||L. J. Smith (book series)
|Portrayed by||Nina Dobrev|
|Occupation||High school student (former)
College student (currently)
|Family||Grayson Gilbert (adoptive father/uncle)
Miranda Gilbert (adoptive mother/aunt)
John Gilbert (father)
Isobel Flemming (mother)
Jeremy Gilbert (adoptive brother/cousin)
Jenna Sommers (adoptive aunt)
|Relatives||Alaric Saltzman (stepfather)
Katerina Petrova (ancestor)
Jonathon Gilbert (ancestor)
Samantha Gilbert (ancestor)
Nadia Petrova (ancestor)
Elena Gilbert (born June 22, 1992) is a fictional character and protagonist from the The Vampire Diaries series of novels. In the television series of the same name set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, she is portrayed by Nina Dobrev. In the books, Elena was blonde, popular, selfish and a "mean girl". However the show's producers, Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, felt that it wasn't the right direction they wanted to go with their heroine in The Vampire Diaries television series. Instead, her "dark side" didn't exist, and she was nice, relatable and "the girl next door".
Much of Elena's story revolves around her relationships with vampires Stefan Salvatore and his older brother, Damon. It is revealed that Elena is a Petrova Doppelgänger, which is thus responsible for her being identical to her ancestor, Katherine Pierce (née Petrova). This also has the implication of making her a supernatural creature. Dobrev portrayed the "conniving" Katherine as well, who is opposite to Elena. The actress stated that it has been a challenge distinguishing the two, and enjoys playing them both. In the television series's fourth season, Elena becomes a vampire and deals with the struggles that come with her change.
Casting and portrayal
On March 9, 2009, it was announced that Bulgarian-born Canadian actress Nina Dobrev, known for her portrayal of Mia Jones on Degrassi: The Next Generation, had joined the cast of The Vampire Diaries as Elena. She was the second cast member to be announced following Steven R. McQueen, who plays Elena's brother Jeremy Gilbert. Steve West Cinema Blend said "The vampires’ battle over Elena will wreak havoc on the entire town, which sounds like someone is trying to make this more appealing than it actually will be". Executive producer Kevin Williamson recalled Dobrev auditioning while having the flu, which he described as the "worst audition ever", and they "didn't even look at her a second time". Dobrev went back home to Canada, miserable. Still wanting the part, she submitted a videotape audition, which allowed her to win the part.
Dobrev said that after reading the script, she was drawn to Elena because she was "this average girl who was damaged in many ways". Initially, she believed that she would be playing the "bad girl" Elena from the books, but the show wanted to go in a different direction for the character. After researching, Dobrev discovered she would also play Elena's 534-year old vampire doppelganger Katherine Pierce whose characteristics are the "complete opposite". Dobrev described this as "one of the rarest, coolest opportunities in television, to play two people on the same medium". She had confessed that she enjoys playing Katherine more than Elena. Dobrev stated that she changes her appearance to distinguish Elena from her doppelganger, Katherine; "Changing my hair helps me transform," she told Glamour. Additionally, she said "I think I have one of the coolest characters on the show — I get to play two completely different people on opposite sides of the spectrum and I just have so much fun doing it". Dobrev felt that her biggest challenge on The Vampire Diaries was distinguishing Katherine and Elena, and found it "interesting" to create a whole new character. In the novels, Katherine originated from Germany. However, in the television series, she is born in Bulgaria, as Dobrev was born there and can speak the language. Dobrev said "The writers heard me speaking Bulgarian to my mom on the phone while I was on set one day. One thing led to the other and voila".
In the books, Elena is "one of the popular girls" at her high school who always gets "anything she wants". Executive producer of the television show, Julie Plec, said Elena from the books was "really kind of selfish". In The Vampire Diaries, Elena's "dark side" from the books as a human was never explored, because it "didn't ever feel like a characteristic" the show wanted for their heroine. Plec said "We kind of abandoned that queen-bee popular complex that in a lot of ways defined early Elena in the books", while feeling that Elena's actual dark side is her "deep, deep connection to other people". In the books, Elena had blonde hair, but has brown hair in the television show. Describing Elena from the books, Dobrev said she is "one of those mean girls that gets what she wants, popular . . . and she's blonde and blue eyed". Williamson told her that "the angle we wanted to go for was the relatable, nice, girl next door, who the audience roots for". Katherine, on the other hand, is penned as a "conniving, narcissistic, bitch". Describing Elena years later, Dobrev said she evolved from a "younger, naive, sad, young girl" to a "strong woman".
Before The Vampire Diaries, Elena dated Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig), who was unable to move past his feelings for her initially after their break-up. Elena began dating Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), and later discovered he was a vampire. As the episodes progressed, she developed a connection with Stefan's adventurous brother Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), who consumes human blood, unlike Stefan, who has an animal blood diet. Speaking about the different qualities Stefan and Damon bring to Elena, Dobrev said they have "different qualities that are very appealing", which combined make "the perfect man". She said "Stefan is committed and sweet and protective and loving, and Damon is spontaneous and crazy and fun and exciting".
After Elena became a vampire, she became sired to Damon and they slept together. According to Plec during an interview with TVLine, Elena "really believes what she feels is 100 percent genuine and real", and the couple "wants to be together and realizes that they shouldn’t, yet really wants to. So what do they do?" Stefan became heartbroken, feeling angry and betrayed, and lashed out at Damon and Elena. Months earlier, Wesley urged fans of Stefan and Elena not to lose hope, stating: "The fans should definitely maintain some hope. The thing to remember is that Stefan and Elena have this love that is so strong, and it was sort of the core of Season 1 — you can’t entirely disregard that". Later, while discussing Stefan and Elena, Plec said: "They love each other as deeply as two people can love each other, but that doesn’t mean that their relationship is infallible". In the season 4 finale, an unsired Elena confirms that she is in love with Damon, despite knowing the worst parts of him, and the two kiss passionately. Interviews with Julie Plec have confirmed that the couple will be in a long distance relationship in season 5.
Executive producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson agreed that in the book series, Elena was turned into a vampire too early, which was around page 200 of The Awakening. Elena's transition into a vampire was planned for two years. Plec said: "That felt obviously too soon, and rushed, and we didn’t want to make a show about a teenage girl who instantly becomes a vampire. But we always knew that her journey would take her there eventually". At the second season's conclusion, Elena was nearly turned into a vampire. Dobrev was happy that she wasn't, because she felt "it would have been too soon", and also didn't think it was something Elena or she wanted.
In the show's third season, Elena has a brain hemorrhage which was initially thought to be a concussion, and begins to die. In what was described by the International Business Times as "the moment Vampire Diaries fans have been waiting for", Elena had to choose whether to be driven to Damon or Stefan to say goodbye to. At the time, Klaus was killed, meaning all vampires sprouting from his bloodline also die, which includes Damon and Stefan. She picks to say goodbye to Stefan. However, all these vampires end up surviving when Klaus never really dies. To save her, Doctor Merideth Fell (Torrey DeVitto) fed Elena Damon's blood. Rebekah Mikaelson kills Elena on Wickery Bridge, unaware of the vampire blood in her system. She woke up as a vampire at the end of the season. The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Plec, and described her transition as "monumental changes" which would have Elena in for a "wild ride". Plec said Elena becoming a vampire is "an awakening of a person who is about to go through a lot of changes", and "she is going to evolve as a person and her relationships are going to evolve accordingly". While Stefan was afraid she would hurt someone, Damon thought it was inevitable and wanted to "rip the band-aid off". Plec felt that "She’s, unfortunately, not getting the same advice from the two people she values most in the world. It’s going to make it more difficult for her", while describing the situation as "a whole new Elena and it’s a whole new day. It’s a different dynamic between the three of them especially".
Elena Gilbert is born on June 22, 1992 in Mystic Falls, Virginia to John Gilbert (David Anders) and Isobel Flemming (Mia Kirshner) while they were still in highschool. With the help of John's brother Grayson, Isobel and John flee town days later, leaving Grayson and his wife Miranda to adopt Elena as their own. A doctor, Grayson fakes a birth certificate so that it appeared Elena was his daughter with Miranda. The next year, Miranda and Grayson had a child of their own, Jeremy Gilbert. Elena dates her childhood friend Matt Donovan, who was her first love. On 23 May 2009, Elena is picked up by her mother and father after being stranded by attending a party. The three of them later end up in a car accident, with their car driving off a bridge. Stefan Salvatore finds them, and saves Elena, but it was too late to save Grayson and Miranda, who died. It remained unknown for months who saved Elena, and it was considered a miracle that she lived. Her relationship with Matt ended when they broke up.
Elena, still empty after losing her parents, begins to fit back into school. She meets a mysterious new student named Stefan Salvatore. They connect instantly, and begin dating. She meets his older and malevolent brother, Damon. After researching, Elena realizes Stefan was alive in 1953. It is later revealed that he is a 162-year old vampire. Damon also begins falling for Elena. After sleeping together, Elena finds a picture of a woman named Katherine Pierce who looks exactly like her. Stefan reveals that it is the woman who made him and Damon feud 145 years ago, and the person who turned them into vampires. He also told her that he is the person that saved her the night of her parents death. At the end of season one, Elena discovers that Grayson and Miranda weren't her biological parents, and that a woman named Isobel and her uncle John, who she grew up hating, were.
In season two, she learns that she is a Petrova doppelgänger, having an appearance just like Katherine Pierce, which means that she has to be sacrificed to release Klaus' werewolf side. The sacrifice later happens, but Elena is saved, because John sacrificed himself for her after being put under a spell by Bonnie. However, her aunt Jenna is turned into a vampire and, as part of the sacrifice, is killed by Klaus, leaving Elena without a guardian. In the season two finale, while Damon is dying due to a werewolf bite, she forgives him for forcing her to drink his blood and kisses him with the thought that it might be Damon's last day, however Damon gets cured by drinking Klaus' blood.
In season three, Elena does everything in her power to make Stefan get his humanity back, which was turned off by Klaus as payment for saving Damon from a werewolf bite in the latter part of season two. Meanwhile, she grows closer to Damon while working together on saving Stefan and trying to defeat Klaus, eventually even sharing a kiss. She later admits to Stefan that she has feelings for Damon as well but that she never stopped loving Stefan. While in Denver together, Elena kisses Damon, later telling him that she doesn't know how she feels about him. It is eventually revealed that Elena met Damon the night of her parent's death, though he compelled her to forget. She eventually chooses Stefan in the season finale but before she can tell him, Elena drowns while having vampire blood in her system. During the last moments of season three, she awakens as a vampire in transition.
In season four, Elena is faced with the tough decision of whether to die or to feed on human blood so she can fully transition into a vampire. Elena, after realizing Stefan's desperation to keep her alive, decides to complete her transition. Her relationship with Stefan ends, allowing her to begin a proper romance with Damon. Although, it is later revealed there is a sire bond between them. Sometime later whilst searching for the cure for vampirism, Jeremy is fed to the immortal Silas by Katherine. As a result, Damon used the sire bond to convince her to turn off her humanity, due to her incredible grief over losing her brother and the last remaining member of her family. Elena became ruthless without her emotions, going on killing sprees and being very hateful towards her friends. Towards the end of season four, Damon kills Matt in front of Elena to trigger her grief. After revealing that Matt had the Gilbert Ring on, Elena's humanity was switched on and her emotions were focused on hate towards Katherine for killing Jeremy. Season four ended with Bonnie as a ghost after bringing Jeremy back to life and Elena fed Katherine the cure for vampirism in a moment of desperation as she was about to be killed. Elena had chosen Damon as the Salvatore that she loved.
Elena has received negative reviews. Steve West of the Cinema Blend compared the story of The Vampire Diaries and the character of Elena to the popular vampire franchise, Twilight, and its protagonist Bella Swan. West said "Clearly Elena is way hotter than Bella, she has two immortal vampires fighting over her". After she transitioned into a vampire, Carina Adly MacKenzie of Zap2it hoped that the "fierce" and "ripper" side of Elena would emerge when "someone messes with the people she loves". McKenzie noted that when a person becomes a vampire, "their strongest personality traits are heightened", and hoped that wouldn't see Elena's "compassion and selflessness" double into "helping old ladies with their groceries and nursing injured animals back to health". Robyn Ross of TV Guide also hoped that after Elena "has had a taste for blood", she would lose control. Prior to her becoming a vampire, Ross thought she was less fun and "slightly boring", and wanted Elena to follow her instinct and "stop protecting everyone's feelings".
Elena's romances with Stefan and Damon have become a popular craze with viewers, who have nicknamed them "Stelena" and "Delena". Andy Swift of the website HollywoodLife praised Elena's relationship with Damon, which was a combination of real love and a sired bond, hoping they would live "happily ever after". Vlada Gelman of TVLine, however, felt that their romance was "over in a rather mature way for a young love triangle" and questioned whether Elena was "ready to jump into a relationship with Damon right away" while Stefan was still in the picture.
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