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The third season of The Vampire Diaries began airing in the United States in Fall 2011. It was announced on April 26, 2011 that the show was renewed for another season. Julie Plec mentioned that it will be "The Year of the Original Vampires".
Season three opens the door to learn more about Klaus and The Original Family as his motives for wanting Stefan on his side are finally revealed. As Stefan sinks deeper into the dark side, Damon and Elena struggle with the guilt of their growing bond even as they work together to bring Stefan back home. The ghosts from Jeremy's past have a powerful message they're trying to deliver to him, not to mention the impact they're having on his relationship with Bonnie Bennett; as Caroline and Tyler grow closer, a war erupts between their families.
The series stars Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert, Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore, Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore, Steven R. McQueen as Jeremy Gilbert, Kat Graham as Bonnie Bennett, Candice Accola as Caroline Forbes, Zach Roerig as Matt Donovan, Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood, Matt Davis as Alaric Saltzman and Joseph Morgan as Klaus.
Based on the series of books by L. J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is from Alloy Entertainment and Bonanza Productions Inc in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios with executive producers Kevin Williamson ("Scream," "Dawson's Creek"), Julie Plec ("Kyle XY," "Wasteland"), Leslie Morgenstein ("Gossip Girl," "Private") and Bob Levy ("Gossip Girl," "Privileged")
- Chapter I: The Ghosts Chapter: (Ep. 301 - 307) This chapter deals with the events surrounding Jeremy's new ability to see Ghosts and the mystery surrounding the return of Anna and Vicki to the world of the living. It also deals with Klaus's plan to create more hybrids as well as revealing his back story to his new wingman, Stefan, as well as why he wants Stefan at his side.
- Chapter II: The Originals Chapter: (Ep. 308 - 315) This chapter deals with the truth surrounding the creation of the Vampires in the form of the Originals. It evolves into a conflict between Klaus and Stefan after the latter steals the coffins of the Originals and uses them in his crusade to destroy Klaus. It also sees the arrival and death of the one responsible for the creation of the vampires: Mikael, Klaus' stepfather, and the father to the rest of the Original Vampires. Also, vampires and humans alike are baffled when a killing spree begins against Founder's Council members, scaring others into thinking there is a serial killer in Mystic Falls.
- Chapter III: The Bloodline Chapter: (Ep. 316 - 322) This chapter starts with the development of Esther's plot to destroy her family. Elijah and the rest of the family are not willing to just die and they use Elena to force Damon and Stefan to help them in their power struggle against their mother. Lastly, they learn that once you kill one Original, you also kill their entire bloodline of vampires, which leads to a search to find out who turned whom and which Originals they can kill without signing their own death sentences. It also continues the storyline of the mysterious killer who seems bent on killing the Council members who protect the secret of the vampires in Mystic Falls. As Alaric is revealed to be the killer, due to overusing the Gilbert Ring which cause him to have a split personality, Esther makes him into an Enhanced Original Vampire with the last and indestructible White Oak Stake to kill her children. After appearing to kill Klaus, Rebekah kills Elena, as Alaric's life was bound to Elena's, killing him. However, Elena died with vampire blood in her system.
- Main article: Antagonists in Season Three
- Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert (22/22) / Katherine Pierce (5/22)*
- Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore (22/22)
- Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore (22/22)
- Candice Accola as Caroline Forbes (19/22)
- Matt Davis as Alaric Saltzman (18/22)
- Joseph Morgan as Niklaus Mikaelson (18/22)
- Kat Graham as Bonnie Bennett (17/22)
- Zach Roerig as Matt Donovan (15/22)
- Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood (15/22) (voice in 3x14)
- Steven R. McQueen as Jeremy Gilbert (14/22)
- Claire Holt as Rebekah Mikaelson (17/22)
- Susan Walters as Carol Lockwood (10/22)
- Torrey DeVitto as Meredith Fell (9/22)
- Marguerite MacIntyre as Liz Forbes (7/22)
- Malese Jow as Anna (6/22)
- Daniel Gillies as Elijah Mikaelson (6/22)
- Alice Evans as Esther Mikaelson (6/22)
- Jack Coleman as Bill Forbes (5/22)
- Sebastian Roché as Mikael (5/22)
- Persia White as Abby Bennett Wilson (5/22)
- Kayla Ewell as Vicki Donovan (4/22)
- Nathaniel Buzolic as Kol Mikaelson (4/22)
- Caspar Zafer as Finn Mikaelson (4/22)
- Cassidy Freeman as Sage (3/22)
- Robert Ri'chard as Jamie (3/22)
- David Gallagher as Ray Sutton (2/22)
- Charmin Lee as Gloria (2/22)
- Taylor Kinney as Mason Lockwood (2/22)
- Daniel Newman as Daniel Warren (2/22)
- David Colin Smith as Brian Walters (2/22) (archive footage in 3x16)
- Maria Howell as Ayana (1/22)
- Enisha Brewster as Young Gloria (1/22)
- Lilly Roberson as Sofie (1/22)
- Sarah Cooper as Keisha (1/22)
- Dawn Olivieri as Andie Star (1/22)
- Jason Mac as Derek (1/22)
- Anna Enger as Dana (1/22)
- Jasmine Guy as Sheila Bennett (1/22)
- Frank Brennan as Tobias Fell (1/22)
- Stephen Martines as Frederick (1/22)
- Arielle Kebbel as Lexi Branson (1/22)
- Kelly Hu as Pearl (1/22)
- Devon Allowitz as Henrik Mikaelson (1/22)
- Lindsey Garrett as Samantha Gilbert (1/22)
- Hannah Fierman as Marianna Lockwood (1/22)
- Lauren Cohan as Rose (1/22)
- Sara Canning as Jenna Sommers (1/22)
- Jason MacDonald as Grayson Gilbert (1/22)
- Erin Beute as Miranda Sommers-Gilbert (1/22)
- Linds Edwards as Troy (1/22)
- April Billingsley as Paige (1/22)
- Kimberley Drummond as Mindy (3/22)
- Zane Stephens as Tony (2/22)
Episodes List: 2011-2012
|The Birthday||Writer: Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec||Director: John Behring||September 15, 2011.||#3x01|
|On the morning of Elena's 18th birthday, Caroline is busy planning a party, but Elena is focused on searching for any clues that might help her discover where Stefan is. Damon is also searching for Stefan, while trying to protect Elena and keep her from doing anything that would draw Klaus' attention. Meanwhile, Klaus and Stefan are busy trailing a werewolf named Ray Sutton. Now working at the Mystic Grill along with Matt, Jeremy is struggling to understand why he keeps seeing the ghosts of Vicki and Anna since he was brought back to life by Bonnie's magic. Meanwhile, Alaric does his best to watch over Elena and Jeremy, while dealing with his grief over Jenna's death. Finally, Caroline and Tyler face a new and unexpected challenge.
|The Hybrid||Writer: Al Septien & Turi Meyer||Director: Josh Butler||September 22, 2011.||#3x02|
|Klaus puts a plan in motion that will give him even more power, but even with the unwilling participation of werewolf Ray Sutton, things don't go exactly as Klaus had planned. Damon and Alaric reluctantly go along with Elena's new strategy to find Stefan, leading Damon into a dangerous fight with an unexpected enemy. Jeremy turns to Matt for help as he continues to try to understand what the ghosts from his past want from him. Unaware that Caroline is in need of his help, Tyler faces an emotional confrontation with his mother.
|The End of the Affair||Writer: Caroline Dries||Director: Chris Grismer||September 29, 2011.||#3x03|
|Klaus and Stefan arrive in Chicago, where Stefan is reunited with a vampire who hasn't really moved on from her interest in him decades earlier. In a flashback to Chicago in the 1920s, Stefan comes face-to-face with a shocking chapter from his wild past. After Damon gets a tip on Stefan and Klaus' whereabouts from an unexpected source, he and Elena follow their trail. Back in Mystic Falls, Tyler is concerned about Caroline and turns to Sheriff Forbes for help.
|Disturbing Behavior||Writer: Brian Young||Director: Wendey Stanzler||October 6, 2011.||#3x04|
|Still in Chicago, Klaus uses Gloria, a witch he knew long ago, to help him track down missing information that will explain why his plan isn't working. Gloria's spells reveal intriguing glimpses of the truth, but she soon realizes she needs Stefan's knowledge to complete the puzzle. When Stefan suddenly finds himself in danger, help comes from a surprising ally. Back in Mystic Falls, a frustrating new enemy pushes Damon over the brink and he lashes out in a way that will have lasting consequences. Caroline struggles with her own emotional issues, even as she tries to help Elena face her feelings. Jeremy makes a brief but disturbing breakthrough with one of his ghostly visitors, leaving him more confused than ever. Finally, Bonnie has a strange encounter that will affect everyone.
|The Reckoning||Writer: Michael Narducci||Director: John Behring||October 13, 2011.||#3x05|
|Despite all that has happened, Caroline is determined to see that Elena, Bonnie, Matt and Tyler all enjoy a traditional Senior Prank Night before the school year begins at Mystic Falls High School. However, when uninvited guests show up, it doesn't take long for the evening to take a deadly turn. Damon convinces Jeremy that he can use his new connection to the other side to help find a way to defeat Klaus. Finally, Klaus deepens his hold on Stefan and uses him for increasingly violent and dangerous purposes.
|Smells Like Teen Spirit||Writer: Julie Plec & Caroline Dries||Director: Rob Hardy||October 20, 2011.||#3x06|
|On the first day of their senior year, Elena, Caroline, Bonnie and Matt are still reeling from recent events, while Tyler seems to be enjoying everything a little too much. Damon is annoyed by a new house guest, and everyone is surprised by the arrival of a new student in Alaric's history class. Matt asks Bonnie for help when he realizes he made a serious mistake. Meanwhile, Stefan continues to carry out his latest assignment from Klaus.
|Ghost World||Writer: Rebecca Sonnenshine||Director: David Jackson||October 27, 2011.||#3x07|
|As Mystic Falls prepares to celebrate the traditional Illumination Night, the town is invaded by spirits of the dead. After a particularly violent encounter with an angry spirit, Damon asks Bonnie to find the reason behind the ghosts' surprising power. Elena convinces Jeremy to use his connection to the other side to help her find a new way to reach Stefan, leading Jeremy to a terrible choice. Finally, Alaric discovers a long-hidden clue to the past.
|Ordinary People||Writer: Nick Wauters
Teleplay:Caroline Dries & Julie Plec
|Director: J. Miller Tobin||November 3, 2011.||#3x08|
|With help from Elena and Bonnie, Alaric tries to decipher the meaning behind his recent discovery. Elena and Rebekah engage in a mean-girl power struggle, until Rebekah finally reveals some of her family's ancient secrets and the violent past she shares with Klaus and Elijah. Damon tries a reckless new approach to make a breakthrough with Stefan, and they're both surprised by an unlikely ally.
|Homecoming||Writer: Evan Bleiweiss||Director: Joshua Butler||November 10, 2011.||#3x09|
|On the night of the Homecoming dance, Rebekah opens up to Elena about why the evening is so important to her, leaving Elena with conflicting emotions. Caroline and Matt are both shocked at Tyler's behavior throughout the evening. The night takes a surreal turn when Klaus puts his latest plan into action. Determined to outsmart Klaus, Damon enters into a dangerous partnership, leading to a terrifying turn of events. The band My Morning Jacket performs in the party scenes.
|The New Deal||Writer: Michael Narducci||Director: John Behring||January 5, 2012.||#3x10|
|Stefan has hidden the coffins containing the bodies of Klaus' family, and Klaus quickly turns to violence to convince Damon and Elena that no one will be safe until he finds Stefan and gets his family back. Tyler continues to make the most of his new abilities as a hybrid, but he has to face the disturbing consequences of his actions as well. After a terrifying incident, Elena and Alaric grow increasingly concerned about Jeremy's attitude and, ultimately, his safety. Alaric meets the beautiful Dr. Fell, who is intrigued with his amazing ability to heal. While trying to strike a deal with Klaus, Elena delivers news that truly shocks him.
|Our Town||Writer: Rebecca Sonnenshine||Director: Wendey Stanzler||January 12, 2012.||#3x11|
|Although Caroline is in no mood to celebrate her 18th birthday, Elena, Bonnie and Matt surprise her with a small party in an unusual location. Damon and Stefan disagree on the best way to handle Klaus, and a reckless Stefan decides to test his theory by taking things to dangerous extremes. Bonnie is concerned when Elena tells her about Jeremy's new plans. At a Founder's meeting, Alaric once again runs into Dr. Fell, who is in the middle of an argument with her ex-boyfriend, the medical examiner. Tyler refuses to go along with Klaus' latest demand, and is surprised when Klaus seems to accept his decision.
|The Ties That Bind||Writer: Brian Young||Director: John Dahl||January 19, 2012.||#3x12|
|Bonnie believes her recurring dreams about Klaus' coffins will tell her how he can be killed. The dreams also lead Bonnie to a reunion with her mother, Abby, whom Bonnie hasn't seen for 15 years. At Abby's remote farmhouse, Bonnie and Elena meet Jamie, the young man Abby took in years earlier. Bonnie's sudden appearance catches Abby off-guard, but she does her best to explain the past. Tyler turns to an unexpected ally in his quest to regain his free will. Damon is intrigued by Alaric's new friend, Dr. Fell, and Klaus continues his bitter negotiations with Stefan over control of the coffins containing his family members.
|Bringing Out The Dead||Writer: Turi Meyer & Al Septien||Director: Jeffrey Hunt||February 2, 2012.||#3x13|
|Sheriff Forbes delivers some disturbing news to Alaric and Elena about the weapon used in a recent murder. In the Salvatore brothers' escalating quest to kill Klaus, Stefan turns to Bonnie and Abby, while Damon reaches out to an old acquaintance for help in setting up an elaborate plan. Intent on a plan of his own, Klaus hosts a strange dinner party, where he reveals another story from his family's violent past until an unexpected guest brings the party to an end. Meanwhile, Caroline is heartbroken when she is unable to stop a tragedy from unfolding.
|Dangerous Liaisons||Writer: Caroline Dries||Director: Chris Grismer||February 9, 2012.||#3x14|
|Elena is surprised to receive an invitation to a formal ball, and when Damon and Stefan hear the party is being hosted at Klaus' newly renovated mansion, they both insist on attending the event with her. Caroline and Matt also receive invitations to the ball from unexpected admirers. At the elegant party, Elena learns of a horrifying plan that could lead to numerous deaths and she must decide who she can trust with her new information. Caroline discovers a side of Klaus no one would have suspected. Finally, after an evening of violence and dashed hopes, Damon finds a new way to cope.
|All My Children||Writer: Evan Bleiweiss & Michael Narducci||Director: Pascal Verschooris||February 16, 2012.||#3x15|
|After starting her day with a startling discovery of Damon's latest indiscretion, Elena is frustrated to find that none of her friends agree with her on how they should react to The Original Family's internal power struggle. Once again caught up in the destiny of the Bennett witches, Bonnie and Abby find themselves playing a part in a ritual to appease the spirits of nature. When Elijah gives Damon and Stefan a dangerous ultimatum that puts Elena in danger, they turn to Alaric and Meredith for help with a plan that leads them to a terrible choice.
|1912||Writer: Julie Plec & Elisabeth R. Finch||Director: John Behring||March 15, 2012.||#3x16|
|The present-day murders in Mystic Falls remind Damon of a similar crime spree a century earlier. In flashbacks to 1912, Damon recalls a beautiful vampire, Sage, who showed him a whole new way to exist. Sheriff Forbes warns Damon not to get involved in her investigation, but Damon is convinced she's going after the wrong suspect. Elena and Matt resort to breaking and entering in their search for evidence to prove Dr. Fell is a murderer. For reasons known only to her, Rebekah, becomes interested in locating one of the town's oldest landmarks. Finally, Elena comes to a new understanding of the path her life has taken, and Damon makes an emotional confession to Stefan.
|Break On Through||Writer: Rebecca Sonnenshine||Director: Lance Anderson||March 22, 2012.||#3x17|
|A century after their first encounter, Damon and Sage meet again at the ceremony to kick-off the restoration of Wickery Bridge. Damon is surprised to learn the reason Sage has returned, and pleased when she devises an unusual method to help him figure out what Rebekah is up to. Abby is having a hard time adjusting to her new reality, despite Bonnie and Caroline's efforts to help. When Damon informs Elena of Stefan's latest struggles, she reaches out to Stefan to help her save a friend in danger, in hopes that it will help bring Stefan even closer to his humanity. Finally, when Damon discovers a new secret weapon, he lets Stefan in on the news.
|The Murder of One||Writer: Caroline Dries||Director: J. Miller Tobin||March 29, 2012.||#3x18|
|Damon and Stefan focus a new project that will bring them closer to destroying Klaus, and they quickly bring Elena, Caroline and Matt in on the plan. After Klaus threatens someone close to Bonnie, she has no choice but to work on the spell he needs. Meanwhile, Klaus and Rebekah find the perfect motivator to convince Finn Mikaelson to cooperate with them, but Rebekah is more interested in her own brutal plan to take revenge on Damon. Stefan's emotional turmoil leads him to a dangerous confrontation with Klaus and, later, to a heartbreaking moment with Elena.
|Heart of Darkness||Writer: Evan Bleiweiss & Brian Young||Director: Chris Grismer||April 19, 2012.||#3x19|
|Elena and Damon set off together to make sure Jeremy is safe in Denver, and to see if his special abilities can help reveal the information they need about ancient vampire bloodlines. It doesn't take them long to learn that Jeremy has been hanging with the wrong people. Stefan and Klaus both go to brutal extremes in their search for the missing weapon. Caroline is thrilled when Tyler returns to town, but Tyler soon suspects that something has been going on between Caroline and Klaus. Matt has his hands full trying to keep Rebekah busy organizing the school's upcoming 1920s Decade Dance.
|Do Not Go Gentle||Writer: Michael Narducci||Director: Joshua Butler||April 26, 2012.||#3x20|
|Alaric finds an unexpected ally to guide him on his dangerous new path, while Damon and Meredith try to figure out what their next move should be. At the schools 1920's Decade Dance, Bonnie asks Jamie to go with her and, at Caroline's suggestion, Elena asks Stefan to be her date. Caroline is pleasantly surprised when Tyler shows up at the dance determined to sweep her off her feet, but Klaus does his best to come between them. The dance takes a deadly turn when Damon and Stefan realize they need the help of Matt, Jeremy and especially Bonnie to undo a spell that could prove devastating for everyone.
|Before Sunset||Writer: Charlie Charbonneau & Daphne Miles
|Director: Chris Grismer||May 3, 2012.||#3x21|
|Klaus acts on his intentions to leave town with Elena, but finds resistance from a surprising new enemy. Bonnie calls on Abby to help her with a difficult spell. As events spiral out of control, Elena is determined to protect Caroline, Damon and Stefan enlist Tyler's help, while Bonnie and Jeremy take a terrifying risk to make sure her spell is effective. Damon and Stefan have a surprisingly candid conversation about the future.
|The Departed||Writer: Brett Matthews & Elisabeth R. Finch
|Director: John Behring||May 10, 2012.||#3x22|
|Determined to protect his sister, Jeremy makes a decision that will change everything. In the harsh reality of the present situation, Elena longs for simpler times when her parents, Grayson (guest star Jason MacDonald) and Miranda (guest star Erin Beute), and Aunt Jenna (guest star Sara Canning) were still alive and her biggest concern was her relationship with Matt . Stefan and Damon leave Mystic Falls together on a mission, but soon split up when Elena needs one of them. Caroline and Tyler are forced to make a life-changing decision. Finally, Bonnie makes a secret deal that has heartbreaking consequences.
- As of the beginning of Season 3, every main character now knows about vampires and supernatural beings in the series.
- During an interview executive producer Julie Plec stated that season 3 will be "The Year of The Originals".
- Joseph Morgan (Klaus) was updated to series regular status this season.
- Rebecca Sonnenshine has been hired to write a few episodes. She is known for writing psychological horror.
- Klaus is the first villain to be the main antagonist of more than one season as well as to keep this role for the entire season.
- The first part of Season 3 has 9 episodes (The Birthday to Homecoming (2011)).
- The second part of Season 3 has 6 episodes (The New Deal to All My Children (2012)).
- The third part part of Season 3 has 7 episodes (1912 to The Departed (2012)).
- Meredith Fell appears in the tenth episode and thus being the last main book character to appear in the series.
- Sara Canning reprises her role as Jenna Sommers in The Departed.
- Unlike the two previous seasons, the end of the third season does not end at the Gilbert House, but with a member of the Gilbert Family.
- This is the first season in which David Anders (John Gilbert) and Mia Kirshner (Isobel Flemming) don't appear in any episodes.
- Every previous regular cast member is present this season. (Elena, Damon, Stefan, Jeremy, Bonnie, Caroline, Alaric, Matt, Tyler, Klaus, Katherine aswell as Vicki and Jenna). With the Exception that Jenna and Vicki Apeared as Guest stars instead of Regulars.
- Main article: Timeline
A time jump occurs at the beginning of the season from last season's finale As I Lay Dying. If the deleted scenes from Season 2 are canon, then season 3 will begin close to June 22, 2010, which is Elena's birthday. Note: Since Senior Year begins during 3x06, then it's unlikely Elena's birthday is June 22, but has been changed to August, assuming senior year in the show starts up in late August and early September. The Hybrid occurs during a full moon so it's Tuesday, August 24, 2010 according to a full moon calendar. It follows the story until the night of November 6, 2010, with Season 4 beginning on November 7, 2010.