20 Most Iconic Elena Gilbert Moments

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6. Her 18th birthday (3.01)

Season 2 ended with quite the cliffhanger – Damon almost dying, Elena kissing him goodbye, Stefan giving himself over to Klaus to save his brother, Katherine coming in and bringing Damon the cure at the last second…it was a nail biter. And from there, it wasn’t an easy summer – Elena’s boyfriend was missing, in the clutches of her worst enemy, and she’s turning 18 without her parents, without Stefan, and without a whole lot of excitement. And yet, her friends won’t let her not celebrate – Caroline organizes a rager party for her, and Damon gifts her with her necklace, even though it’s a symbol of Stefan’s love for her.

She finds it in her to smile and to at least fake it through her day. It was something I’d admired about Elena since the very first episode – she fights on and perseveres, even when life gives her every reason to give up and never leave her bed. She will live. She will get up and smile, and she will keep living. It’s her strength shining through – and again, when she discovers that Damon has been tracking Stefan without her knowledge. She’s angry, but it also lights a fire in her. She’s ready to fight to find Stefan, and not give up hope.

She’s going to keep pushing onward, even when it hurts like hell – and that is what I love so deeply about Elena Gilbert. She fights.