Who knew that when The Vampire Diaries began at the height of the vampire romance craze in the late-2000s it would birth an entire franchise of interconnected spin-offs that even a decade later show no signs of stopping. The entire Vampire Diaries universe, helmed by Julie Plec, is not without its controversial decisions, however. Any Reddit thread for The Vampire Diaries and The Originals is inevitably filled with complaints about the high volume of characters passing away, which will surely be another point of contention for fans of the latest Vampire Diaries universe program, Legacies. As with many CW shows, there are also arguments over which characters were most deserving of life and which characters were given bad storylines.
The Originals ran for five seasons on the CW from 2013 to 2018 and followed The Vampire Diaries fan-favorite characters Klaus and Elijah Mikaelson and their siblings, the original vampires, as they struggle for power and love in New Orleans, Louisiana. The show further delved into the magical elements of the franchise, with a heavy emphasis on vampire lore, witches, and werewolves. Many new characters were introduced in addition to the characters who were brought over from The Vampire Diaries, and while some quickly became beloved, others contributed to a fifth season that is mostly reviled by its most ardent fans.
With that said, here are the 9 Casting Decisions That Hurt The Originals (And 11 That Saved It).
20 Saved: Joseph Morgan (Klaus Mikaelson)
Klaus Mikaelson was originally introduced on The Vampire Diaries as the baddest of the Big Bads. As an Original Vampire (who was also the original werewolf-vampire hybrid), Klaus needed a doppelgänger to allow his werewolf side to be free so he could sire his own army of werewolf-vampire hybrids.
The character was only meant to last one season on The Vampire Diaries, but Joseph Morgan’s complex portrayal of Klaus made the character a fan-favorite, and his epic romance with Caroline Forbes is still one of the most fiercely defended in The Vampire Diaries universe. The Originals wouldn’t exist without Morgan’s strong acting. The series’ popularity hinged on his ability to successfully show his character develop.
19 Hurt: Danielle Rose Russell (Hope Mikaelson)
Fans’ reasons for disliking Hope Mikaelson are varied. As a recurring character who was eventually promoted to a series regular in The Originals‘ fifth and final season, Hope is the tribrid daughter of Klaus Mikaelson and Hayley Marshall. She then became the lead character in Legacies, The Vampire Diaries series that succeeded The Originals.
Part of the reason why fans disliked teenaged Hope is because she is the reason why the fifth season of The Originals was essentially one big backdoor pilot for Legacies that disrupted character plotlines. Unfortunately, there’s also a large contingent of the fandom who believe it’s Danielle Rose Russell’s acting that is the character’s biggest flaw. Hopefully, she’ll come into her own during Legacies.
18 Saved: Phoebe Tonkin (Hayley Marshall)
Hayley Marshall, portrayed by Pheobe Tonkin of H20: Just Add Water fame, was introduced as a werewolf in The Vampire Diaries. Hayley gave birth to Klaus’ tribrid daughter, Hope, and falls in love with Elijah Mikaelson. Hayley’s relationship with Elijah became one of fans’ mosst favorite couples, and their relationship was so compelling because of Pheobe’s acting and her chemistry with Daniel Gilles, who played Elijah.
Some fans also liked the Hayley and Klaus pairing, and fans supporting a relationship between one character and each of the main male leads in the show is rare and can only come from a female character who is well-portrayed and elicits empathy from the series’ most loyal viewers.
17 Hurt: Claire Holt (Rebekah Mikaelson)
Another H20: Just Add Water alumn, Claire Holt’s Rebekah Mikaelson is a fan-favorite. Rebekah is a member of the Original family and never wanted to be a vampire. Holt’s portrayal of Rebekah made fans love her, but Holt is also the reason why we didn’t see more of Rebekah during The Originals.
Though there were rumors that Julie Plec wrote Rebekah off of the show because of a lack of viable storylines or because of feuding between the showrunner and the actress, these were later debunked when Holt spoke to Buzzfeed about her reasons for leaving the show. Her three-episode guest role on The Vampire Diaries became a season filming The Originals in Atlanta, and Holt chose to be with her loved ones and family in Los Angeles instead of continuing to film the series in Georgia.
16 Saved: Oliver Ackland (Tristan de Martel)
Redditors loved the first three seasons of The Originals, but after a brief dip into slower, character-based development, the plot kicked back into high gear during season three when Oliver Ackland’s Tristan de Martel was introduced to the show.
The third season antagonist was the first vampire turned by Elijah Mikaelson and the former leader of the Strix, a society of vampires from Elijah’s sireline responsible for countless wars and assassinations since the Middle Ages. Tristan and the Strix were a fun addition to the series, and Ackland’s performance helped the storyline progress in a way that made season three one of The Originals most fun seasons for viewers.
15 Hurt: Riley Voelkel (Freya Mikaelson)
Freya Mikaelson is the eldest Original sibling. However, she was unable to get to know her brothers and sister after she was abducted by her aunt Dahlia for over a hundred years. The character was introduced in the second season, where the witch used her magic to free both herself and Rebekah from the Asylum and regularly protected her family from harm.
Despite the character regularly saving the Original family, fans complained that Freya should have been stronger, both in terms of her magic and as a character. Riley Voelkel’s portrayal of the character lead to Freya spending more screentime focused on Keelin than finding her own, inner strength, and although much of that has to do with the writing, fans were hoping for more of an inner fire from the OG Original sibling.
14 Saved: Leah Pipes (Camille O’Connell)
Camille’s passing in season three is considered one of the saddest in The Vampire Diaries universe. The character was introduced as a college student trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s demise, but she caught the eye of both Elijah and Klaus and, like Caroline, fully came into her own as a character once she became a vampire.
When she was first introduced, fans were overly protective of the Mikaelson brothers and were hesitant to embrace a new love interest, especially for Klaus. It was actress Leah Pipes’ persistence and acting skills that led to the character eventually becoming one who fans could root for, even though they were missing the romance between Klaus and Caroline.
13 Saved: Christina Marie Moses (Keelin)
Christina Marie Moses’ Keelin was a trailblazer for The Originals because she gave The Vampire Diaries‘ franchise a much-needed LGBTQ couple they could root for after the three gay couples introduced by the franchise were either evil or promptly destroyed (or both).
Marie Moses’ acting gave life to the relationship between Freya and Keelin, building chemistry between the pair with a quick but natural intensity. Not only is Keelin bisexual, but she’s also a black woman, which means that the character not only gave The Originals more diversity in terms of orientation, but she also gave the show more ethnic diversity — two things that mainstream television shows desperately need. Marie Moses also gave birth to a beloved character.
12 Saved: Daniel Gillies (Elijah Mikaelson)
Elijah Mikaelson was the secondary protagonist in The Originals, Klaus’ older brother, and a major love interest for Hayley. Elijah was introduced as an antagonist and a former love interest of Katherine Pierce during the second season of The Vampire Diaries.
The character was originally only slated to appear in one season of The Vampire Diaries and was meant to pass away early in the series, but Daniel Gillies’ portrayal of Elijah endeared him to fans (and the writers) and led him to appear on The Vampire Diaries through seasons three and four. His popularity as a character is due to Gillies’ performance, and without Elijah’s popularity, the Originals would have likely never had their own eponymous spin-off series.
11 Saved: Charles Michael Davis (Marcel Gerard)
Marcel Gerard was introduced as the antagonist of The Originals‘ first season. He was a vampire sired by Klaus who was only seeking to protect Davina Claire and attempted to take over as the ruler of New Orleans, unseating the Mikaelsons.
Charles Michael Davis portrayed every aspect of Marcel beautifully, from his original persona as a powerful threat through the characters’ fall from grace, his exile, and his backstory in 1810 Louisiana as a slave. Marcel is the only vampire to have gained as much power as the Original Vampires. Many Redditors love the character. Michael Davis’ acting brought a complex story to life in a way that made every fan want to root for him.
10 Hurt: Danielle Campbell (Davina Claire)
Davina Claire is a witch who was saved from a sacrificial rite by Marcel Gerard, who she came to view as a father figure. Fans never took to Davina like they did to most of the principal characters of the series, commenting that actress Danielle Campbell’s acting wasn’t dynamic enough to bring life into the character’s occasionally mediocre storylines, calling Davina a precocious brat and a whiner.
Campbell didn’t have enough chemistry with the other cast members to make her storylines as an antagonist interesting. Instead, she came off as annoying, and some Redditors noted that she played into the dramatic teen persona that pidgeonholed her character over the course of the series.
9 Saved: Andrew Lees (Lucien Castle)
Lucien Castle was introduced in the third season of The Originals as the main antagonist, an Upgraded Original Vampire who was the first vampire to ever be turned and a member of the Trinity, a trio comprised of the oldest non-Original vampires to have existed.
One Reddit thread regularly cited Lucien as one of the best characters on the series because of his backstory and his storylines, but much of the love for Lucien came from Andrew Lees’ ability to powerfully portray the ancient vampire fighting protagonists who were usually undefeated while still realistically showing exploitable weaknesses. Lees’ acting also brought humor to an otherwise serious character and endeared himself to The Originals‘ loyal audience.
8 Hurt: Blu Hunt (The Hollow)
The Hollow was a Native witch who plagued New Orleans as a spirit and served as the primary antagonist of The Originals during the fourth and fifth seasons. As one of the only characters more powerful than the Ancestors, The Hollow was ruthless and influential, taking lives without joy or sorrow and convincing others to do the same.
Blu Hunt’s performance can’t fully be blamed for fans’ disappointment with the character’s reveal, but fans commented that The Hollow was scarier as an unseen force and that the name “Hollow” was a fitting description of the character. It would take a force of nature to put the intensity and subtlety necessary to bring the depth to the character that fans craved, and unfortunately, Hunt wasn’t able to make up for the character’s flaws.
7 Saved: Jaime Murray (Antoinette Sienna)
Antoinette Sienna was introduced in the fifth and final season of The Originals as a new love interest for Elijah after his romance with Hayley ended indefinitely. This placed a target on the character’s back early on, as fans were deeply invested in Hayley and Elijah’s relationship and, in the past, had been hostile towards new love interests for the main characters.
Jaime Murray’s performance was described as nuanced by fans, and she had a lot of chemistry with Daniel Gilles. Regardless of fans’ opinions on Antoinette’s storyline and what it meant in connection to his relationship with his family, viewers tended to agree that Antoinette was good for Elijah, a consensus that was only possible because of Murray’s strong performance.
6 Hurt: Torrance Coombs (Declan)
Torrance Coombs’ past work on The Tudors and Reign was enjoyable and well-acted, but his short-lived time on The Originals as Declan, a love interest for Hayley introduced in the fifth season as Camille and Sean O’Connell’s human cousin, wasn’t as well liked.
A lot of the dislike for Declan came from the simple fact that his character served no purpose, stole screentime from characters the audience had grown to love, and was easily forgettable. An issue with the character that was solely from Coombs’ performance, however, came from the actor’s questionable accent. If Coombs and Pheobe had stronger chemistry and had a stronger accent, then maybe Declan would have had at least one fan.
5 Saved: Claudia Black (Dahlia)
Dahlia was one of the most powerful witches in history. She was introduced as The Originals‘ Big Bad during the second season. Dahlia is Klaus, Elijah, and the rest of the Original siblings’ aunt, though she thirsted for immortality. Unlike Marcel, the first season’s main antagonist, Dahlia started out as a being who was more powerful than the Mikaelsons and shared many of Klaus’ motives, seeking the loyalty that she couldn’t find in her sibling, Esther.
Claudia Black’s strong acting brought Dahlia to life, as she was equal parts insane, power-hungry, and human. She’s still regarded as one of the series’ best villains, and Dahlia raised the stakes from the first season.
4 Hurt: Nadine Lexington (Greta Sienna)
As another character who introduced in the fifth season to the detriment of the show, Greta Sienna was a main antagonist introduced in the first episode of The Originals‘ final season. Greta was Antoinette’s mother, but the real issue with Nadine Lexington’s character was that she was one of the leaders of the Nazi Vampires who abducted Hayley. If that sentence sounded ridiculous, it’s because the fact that there were Nazi Vampires introduced in the first place is ridiculous.
Lexington had the misfortune of becoming one of the most notable characters connected to this terrible plotline, and while there’s little she could have done to save her character from being reviled, Lexington and her character definitely hurt the series in its final season.
3 Saved: Candice King (Caroline Forbes)
Fans of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals don’t need to be told why Candice King was a blessing to the entire Vampire Diaries franchise. Caroline Forbes began her time in the Vampire Diaries universe as a shallow girl with little understanding of the consequences of her actions.
After becoming a vampire, though, Caroline became a strong, self-assured woman, and her intense chemistry with Joesph Morgan is part of the reason why Klaus became such a beloved character. Her appearances on The Originals reminded fans of why they fell in love with Klaus in the first place, and King’s nuanced, masterful portrayal of Caroline was a joy for fans of both series to watch.
2 Hurt: Casper Zafer (Finn Mikaelson)
Casper Zafer’s portrayal of Original Vampire Finn Mikaelson, a second season antagonist and the eldest Mikaelson brother, was fun to watch and brought a lot to the character. The reason why Casper’s casting hurt The Originals comes from how well he gained the attention of the fans, only to have his life taken by Matt Donovan during the third season of The Vampire Diaries.
Finn disappeared from the Vampire Diaries universe because Zafer allegedly decided to retire from acting entirely. While he still occasionally appeared on the series, the character’s potential growth was cut short by Zafer’s change of heart regarding his chosen profession. The Originals was the final series Zafer appeared in before his retirement.
1 Saved: Nathaniel Buzolic (Kol Mikaelson)
Kol Mikaelson was the black sheep of the Original family, as he was considered a nuisance by his siblings and often acting out in a cry for attention. Nathaniel Buzolic’s performance was fun to watch as he embraced his character’s darker side and reveled in his vampirism, a theme not seen often in the franchise unless it’s being used as a tool to show a “good” character going “bad” for a brief time like Damon or Stefan Salvatore in the original series.
Buzolic gave Kol heart, humor, and wit even while fully leaning into being a wild-cannon vampire. Many fans on Reddit see him as the best vampire in the franchise and the best Original, despite the fact that Kol appearing in a very small amount of episodes.
Which other casting decisions hurt or saved The Originals? Let us know in the comments!