Stefan is the hero, the supporting protagonist (alongside Elena), and the male lead character of the book series. Stefan is Damon's moral, benevolent younger brother. Stefan was born July 5, 1490 in Florence, Italy to Conte Di Giuseppe Salvatore and his unnamed mother, who died a few years after Stefan's birth due to an illness. Stefan is a five hundred plus year old immortal born during the time of The Renaissance, who was one of the Salvatore brothers that fell deeply in love with a young beautiful Bulgarian girl who was a vampire, Katherine Von Swartzschild, during his human life and before he was transformed into a vampire when he was a 17 year old human boy. During his human life, Stefan was a noble, aristocratic young man who lived by a strict code of morals, values, ethics and code of honor. Stefan strongly believed in nobility, duty, responsibility, justice and doing the right thing as much as possible. In his human years, Stefan was seen to be deeply sentimental and he was shown to care about family, friends, memories, duty, his ambitions and studies, responsibility and serving his duty to his hometown of Florence. Between he and Damon, Stefan was the favored child with everyone, especially his father Giuseppe, mostly because Stefan was seen by everyone as a good, noble, obedient, and ideal son. Stefan was Giuseppe's favorite son and held Stefan at high regard and respect because he was obedient, dutiful, studious, noble and responsible.
Physically, Stefan is extremely gorgeous and inhumanely beautiful with classically handsome fine facial features which are youthful, boyish and fresh in appearance. He has a straight classical nose, full perfectly shaped lips, and high cheekbones which are sculptors dream. Stefan has the thick, soft, black wavy-ish hair, intense, captivating and piercing green eyes, which are described to be the color of emeralds, malachite or summer oak leaves and very pale, clear skin. He is taller than Damon with a lean, flat-muscled body with long legs, and lithe, hard muscles in his arms and chest. Stefan is said to strongly physically resemble Damon due to family relation; this is noticed by both Elena and Bonnie. Stefan wears a heavy silver ring with a large, round lapis lazuli stone (given to him by Katherine) on the middle finger of his right hand in order for him to walk in the sunlight.
Personality wise, Stefan is described as brooding, mysterious, complex, inscrutable and intense. In regards to his personality traits and characteristics, Stefan is the complete and total opposite of his brother Damon. Stefan is described to be pure of heart; compassionate, empathetic, kind, altruistic, selfless, moral, noble, brave, courageous, gallant, loyal and protective. However, on the downside, Stefan can also be depressive, martyring, guilt-ridden, isolated, self-pitying, too selfless, naive, self-loathing and stubborn. As opposed to his elder brother Damon, Stefan deeply, strongly cares about humankind and has a very strong regard for human life. Because of this, Stefan has never killed any humans during his immortal life and therefore, does not drink human blood under any circumstances and lives on a strict animal blood diet (although throughout the series, he does eventually give in to his 'no human blood ever' rule and drinks Elena's blood during times of intimacy). Although Stefan is very kind, compassionate, calm and gentle by nature, Stefan has a quick temper when provoked and can be menacing, intimidating and scary if you try to cross him, manipulate him or harm the people that he loves and cares about in any way. Stefan is stoically loyal and fiercely protective.
Not much is known of Stefan's back story or of what Stefan had been doing between the period of the time when Stefan was transformed into a vampire back in his home of Florence and the time he came to Fells Church, but it could be presumed that Stefan was living in the shadows while saving or protecting humans who were ever in any harm or danger. Although Stefan had lived in secret and in the shadows, Stefan yearned to live amongst humankind, desiring to relive his humanity, the humanity that he had lost against his will many centuries ago. Stefan is also a strong romantic at heart; he is very chivalrous, gallant, well-mannered and polite towards the opposite sex and he loves very intensely, deeply and passionately. Stefan is at first seen to be shy, quiet and reserved, however, eventually he opens up to the humans around him and makes good, solid and lasting friendships and acquaintances. When Stefan lets his guard down, he is practical, charming, pleasant, friendly and likeable and also possesses a dry sense of humor.
Stefan arrives in Fells Church to start a new life and live amongst humans and enrolls as a high school student at Robert E. Lee High School to blend in like a regular 17 year old human. It is there, where Stefan unexpectedly, fatefully and inevitably meets Elena Gilbert. He is intensely, immediately and indescribably drawn to her. He fell for her at first sight, but because Elena bears a striking resemblance to his past and first love, Katherine, he repeatedly tries to avoid her at all costs during the beginning of the series, feeling that their uncanny physical resemblance brings up painful, sorrowful memories of his dark past. Later in the series, Stefan eventually lets his walls crumble and falls in even deeper and more passionate love with Elena. However, although Stefan falls for Elena, and Elena reciprocates his love just as strongly and passionately, his elder and malevolent brother, Damon, follows him to Fells Church to make torture him and make his life chaos. Damon repeatedly makes threats and attempts to try to rob Elena away from him out of revenge, anger and envy against him. In Shadow Souls, it was revealed that Elena is Stefan's true soulmate, due to the 'soulmate principle'. Stefan develops strong friendships with Bonnie McCullough and Meredith Sulez. Stefan becomes best friends with Matt Honeycutt, Elena's childhood friend and first love, in The Awakening. Although Matt is still in love with Elena when Stefan begins a relationship with her, Matt supports Stefan and Elena being together and believes that Stefan is a good individual, despite him being a vampire. Throughout the course of the series, Stefan has been strewn out of Fells Church, mostly out of his control (and mostly, by Damon's influence), causing him and Elena to repeatedly become separated from each other against their will. Due to all the unexpected, unusual events surrounding both Stefan and Elena, they have both have had to overcome many obstacles, trials and tribulations and their strong love for each other has been tested repeatedly throughout the series. Because of this, it has caused Stefan to leave Elena's well-being and life in the hands of his impulsive, immoral and dangerous brother, Damon.
Though Stefan and Damon do not see eye to eye, Stefan still deeply loves his elder brother and strongly believes that Damon has an inner humanity deep inside him, despite Damon's constant of committing amoral acts. In regards to Damon, Stefan has a rather complicated and even strained relationship with his elder brother, ever since childhood. Damon has deeply, strongly loathed or hated his brother ever since they were children, and Stefan could never understand why Damon always hated him so much. Stefan believes that the deep hatred that Damon harbored against him had to do with the untimely death of their mother due to Stefan's birth. Stefan revealed that Damon was quite close to her, considering that Damon was the first born child of the family and that as soon as Stefan was born, both Giuseppe and Stefan and Damon's mother gave more attention and love to the younger Salvatore, changing the dynamics of the Salvatore family completely. Stefan does not have much memory of his mother, because she died a few years after he was born, but it is said that his and Damon's mother was the complete opposite of Giuseppe in terms of personality and temperament. She was said to possess a similar temperament to Stefan; calm, gentle, kind, caring and protective but also, she was rather fragile, weak and vulnerable in regards to physical health.
Stefan is the opposite of Damon in regards to outlook, values, ethics and beliefs, which makes Stefan extremely polar opposite to Damon in all these aspects. While Damon has no problem with killing many innocent humans for their blood to gain Power, Stefan is strongly opposed to taking innocent human life and has never believed that killing innocent people for their life force (blood) is worth it to be powerful and gain Power. Whereas Damon is strongly drawn to the dangerous, wild, dark side of life and living in the shadows of darkness, Stefan enjoys life amidst the sunlight amongst the comfort of family, friends and humans. Although Stefan doesn't drink human blood, Stefan still possesses the standard vampire abilities such as immortality, super speed, super strength, agility, enhanced senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell), telepathy, and mind compulsion. Stefan also has the unique ability of being able to read individuals minds. If Stefan consumes enough human blood, Stefan would gain enough Power to manipulate the weather (create storms, rain, thunder, lightening, wind, fog, etc.) and shape shift into an animal, in which Stefan did after he drank enough human blood and turned into a falcon in The Struggle. Stefan is attending college with his love Elena and his friends Bonnie, Matt and Meredith.