Caroline: Anyway, in return for my good behavior, I want a year while I don't have to feel pain, or grief, or remorse. You're not gonna lock me in a cell and dry me out, and you're definitely not gonna try to trigger some lightened emotion, hoping to snap my humanity back on.
Elena: So, all you want is for us to leave you alone, and then you promise not to kill anyone?
Caroline: That's all. And granted, if anyone tries anything to flip my switch back on, and I mean.. anything, I'll become your worst nightmare.
Caroline to Elena and Bonnie after having turned her humanity off

The Downward Spiral is the sixteenth episode of the sixth season of The Vampire Diaries and the one hundred and twenty-seventh episode of the series overall.



The Vampire Diaries 6x16 Extended Promo - The Downward Spiral HD

IAN SOMERHALDER MAKES HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT. — After shutting off her humanity following the death of her mother, Caroline gives her friends an unexpected ultimatum. Not knowing how to handle the new Caroline, Stefan's attempt to intervene sets off a dangerous chain of events, leaving him and Elena in a race against the clock. Meanwhile, after seeking answers from Kai about the prison world, Damon's world is turned upside when he learns some devastating news about his mother Lily. Elsewhere, Enzo finds himself becoming increasingly intrigued by Sarah, and Bonnie begins to struggle with the effects of being back in the real world.




Main Cast

Recurring Cast




  • The title refers to Caroline dealing with her mother's death with her humanity switch off.
  • Damon digs up his mother's coffin to prove that she is dead but he finds it empty.
    • Like his girlfriend Elena, he learns his mother isn't just dead but also a vampire.
  • Elena is the fourth character to learn the secret of Sarah Nelson (Salvatore) from Stefan, after Enzo, Matt and Caroline.
  • Bonnie is informed of the following updates after returning from the 1994 Prison World in the previous episode:
    • Caroline has turned off her humanity because her mother Liz died.
    • Jeremy moved to Santa Fe for art school.
    • Elena dated a premed student named Liam, and then compelled him to forget everything about their relationship after she was forced to reveal she was a vampire (which she also made him forget)
    • Elena compelled away her memories of loving Damon after she thought he died.
  • It's revealed that rave parties aren't the type of parties Elena likes to attend.
  • Caroline gave the Mystic Falls Gang an ultimatum in this episode: as long as the others do not push her to turn on her humanity for a year, she will not kill anyone or do any other horrible things that humanity-less vampires usually do.
  • Liam has been compelled at least three times in this episode:
    • Twice by Caroline to forget her feeding on him and later to kill Sarah via amateur surgery.
    • Once by Stefan to see if he remembers Caroline feeding on him.
  • Elena arrives just in time to Whitmore Medical Center in order to save Sarah's life before Liam (compelled by Caroline) could cut out her heart. She heals Sarah with her blood and is forced to break Liam's hands to keep him from trying to complete Caroline's orders.
  • Stefan turns off his humanity after Caroline threatens to kill Sarah, his great grand-niece, if he doesn't do so. Her reasoning for forcing him to turn off her humanity is because she knows Stefan is her emotional trigger and doesn't want him to be used to turn her humanity back on.
    • This marks the first time in the series to have two vampires with their humanity turned off in one episode.
  • Lillian Salvatore, Stefan and Damon's mother, is discovered to not only be "alive," but that she is both a vampire and a Ripper, which is why she was trapped in a Prison World in 1903. According to Kai, she slaughtered and killed over 3,000 people after she was turned. The Gemini Coven found her and trapped her in the Prison World as a punishment for her crimes.
    • This makes her the fifth parent and the fourth mother of another character turned into a vampire before their children were turned, after Katherine, Pearl (though Anna may have been turned at the same time) and Isobel.
      • Mikael doesn't count, as he was made into a vampire around the same time as his children.
    • This story was proven to be not entirely accurate in I Never Could Love Like That, when Jo calls her father Joshua and learns that Lily wasn't the only person trapped in the 1903 Prison World—she was also imprisoned with six of her companions who were exiled from the Gemini Coven because they were Siphoners like Kai. To make matters worse, Lily turned them all into vampires, but because they didn't technically possess their own magic, they retained their ability to siphon magic (including the magic in their own vampirism, which was a limitless power source) and use it to perform witchcraft. These Siphoner-vampire hybrids became known as the Heretics.
  • Bonnie is having difficulty re-adapting to the world, jumping at the sound of a champagne cork pop and using her magic to burn a man who tried to make out with her at the rave party. When Damon brings Kai to her so that he can apologize, she leaves in anger and later punishes Damon by inflicting the wounds she had suffered at Kai's hands in the prison world.
  • Enzo, thanks to Caroline's help, realizes that Sarah has been compelled by Stefan to not be at all impressed or intrigued by the existence of vampires, as he hoped it meant that she would never be drawn to them or want to become one herself.
  • Kai confirms that there are only two prison worlds created by the Gemini Coven: his own in 1994 and Lily's in 1903.
  • Elena mentions Jolene (though not by name), the waitress she killed when she had her humanity turned off.


  • This episode continues the trend of not featuring Tyler in the 16th episode of each season so far.
    • However, in Bring It On, Tyler did not appear but his voice was heard by a voice mail.
  • Enzo and Sarah were last seen in Stay.
  • Liam was last seen in Fade Into You.
  • Elena references Jolene, the young waitress she killed when she had her humanity turned off. She killed Jolene in the Season Four episode American Gothic.
  • When Bonnie reunites with the Elena, she is updated on many of the things that she missed while she was gone. This list includes Caroline turning off her humanity following the death of her mother, Jeremy moving to Santa Fe for art school (or so Elena believes, anyway), Elena's relationship with Liam, and her decision to have Alaric compel away her memories of loving Damon.
    • Liz died in Stay, and Caroline turned her humanity off at the end of Let Her Go.
    • Jeremy left for "art school" in Stay.
    • Elena began her relationship with Liam in Welcome to Paradise. They broke up in Fade Into You, when Elena was forced to confess that she was a vampire and subsequently compelled him to forget both her supernatural identity and the fact that they were ever in a relationship.
    • Elena had Alaric compel away her memories of loving Damon in Yellow Ledbetter.
  • This episode marks the first time in the series that Stefan willingly turns off his humanity.


Behind the Scenes

Cultural References

  • "The Downward Spiral" is a song by Nine Inch Nails, released March 8, 1994 on their album of the same name.
    • This term describes a depressive state where the person experiencing the downward spiral is getting more and more depressed, perhaps due to causes unknown. It is called a downward spiral because there is no way to stop it, it's just going to get worse and worse... until the person crashes and hits rock bottom.
  • Enzo mentions Anne Rice (who wrote The Vampire Chronicles), Bram Stoker's Dracula and the Twilight saga.


Extended Promo

Stefan (to Elena): "Caroline is going to snap."
Elena: (to Stefan) "She's not actually hurting anyone. No students are missing."
Damon: (to Bonnie) "Uh oh. Caroline fly off the rails? If so, I called it."
Elena: (to Caroline) "What did you do to Liam?"
Caroline: "I ate him."
Caroline: (to Elena) "I flipped my humanity switch, Elena."
Bonnie: "It's weird. It's like she's Caroline, but not."



Last.fm_play.png "Contagious" – Night Riots
Last.fm_play.png "England Skies" – Shake Shake Go
Last.fm_play.png "Start Again" – Israel Cannan
Last.fm_play.png "Mind Of A Beast" – The Glitch Mob
Last.fm_play.png "Skullclub" – The Glitch Mob
Last.fm_play.png "Wild Child" – Adrian Lux & Marcus Schossow feat JJ
Last.fm_play.png "Our Demons" – The Glitch Mob
Last.fm_play.png "Who Needs Pain" – Unified feat Jan Burton
Last.fm_play.png "No Frontiers" – Unified feat Jan Burton
Last.fm_play.png "Satisfy" – Nero
Last.fm_play.png "Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge" – Marilyn Manson
Last.fm_play.png "Out Of The Black" – Royal Blood




See also

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