As the series finale of The Vampire Diaries approaches it’s time to examine its importance to the evolution of The CW.

Anyone of a certain age knows The CW was born out of the merger between The WB and UPN.

The network’s early claim to fame was teen soaps and ridiculous reality shows. Despite the success of signature shows like Supernatural and Smallville, it took a while for The CW to reach its full nerd potential.

The bridge from those early years to what it is now can be traced directly to The Vampire Diaries.

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What began as another high school vampire drama full of pretty people, evolved into an entertaining fantasy series with a complex mythology and even more complicated characters.

For the uninitiated, the series follows two vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore, as they return to Mystic Falls, fall in love with Elena Gilbert and help her circle of friends fight the supernatural forces that constantly plague the town. In Mystic Falls monsters love to attack during high school dances, town celebrations and weddings.

Though it’s all the rage now to kill off main characters, Vampire Diaries was doing it before it was cool. Some series regulars were even killed in the pilot episode. Of course, death means something different on The Vampire Diaries than it does on other shows.

Pretty much every kid in Mystic Falls has had their parents brutally murdered.

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Over the years, the show has tackled the veil between life and death, trips to hell, literal personal demons, evil doppelgangers, and of course the devil. While all that may sound silly, the show has always found a delicate balance between the teen soap dynamic of the network’s roots with the action and drama of its more grown up newer fare.

When the show introduced the original family of vampires, the characters were so fascinating and popular the network gave them their own spinoff, The Originals, and a shared universe was born.

If all this sounds familiar it’s because it’s the exact same playbook The CW used to launch its Arrowverse of DC superhero shows.

Murdered parents? Check. Flashbacks to a tragic past that directly effects the events of the current storyline? Check. Episodes featuring new characters destined for a spinoff? Check. Really good looking cast? Check. Although that last one is just an overall CW requirement.

As it comes to an end after eight seasons, it’s easy to dismiss The Vampire Diaries as just another CW teen soap, however, if you love the network’s crop of DC superhero shows, or its willingness to take a chance on outside the box series like Jane the Virgin or The 100, you have the vampires from Mystic Falls to thank.

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