TVDU improved its’ LGBTQIA+ character representation over time

Legacies -- "To Whom It May Concern" -- Image Number: LGC306fg_0003r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Courtney Bandeko as Finch and Kaylee Bryant as Josie -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Legacies -- "To Whom It May Concern" -- Image Number: LGC306fg_0003r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Courtney Bandeko as Finch and Kaylee Bryant as Josie -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved. /

When it comes to LGBTQIA+ representation, The Vampire Diaries was severely behind. Every main character was presented as heterosexual. Even many of the show’s supporting characters were never suggested to be anything other than straight.

The Vampire Diaries introduced its’ first gay character, Luke Parker, in season 5. However, Luke’s life came to a devastating end when he fell victim to the Merge with his brother Kai.

A year after Luke’s death, The Vampire Diaries had a shot at redemption by introducing Nora and Mary Louise during the seventh season.

Every central romance or love triangle had been predominantly heterosexual since the beginning, and this was a chance to portray growth had the series not ended the relationship in tragedy.

Although Nora and Mary Louise got to experience the ups and downs of their romance coming into a transformed environment after being released from the Prison World, they struggled at times to be in sync in the more progressive time. Still, in the end, Mary Louise and Nora made it through, sticking together just as in love as they were initially.

But, that does not mean they escaped a brutal fate. The Vampire Diaries received severe backlash due to Nora and Mary Louise’s relationship falling under the hated “bury your gays” trope right after a love confession. The two choose to die together in an explosion, destroying the Phoenix stone in their sacrifice. That was the beginning and the end of a significant LGBTQIA+ couple on The Vampire Diaries.

Given how large the show’s cast turned out to be, why did no other characters get the opportunity to explore their sexuality?

The Originals improved where its predecessor had failed. The series introduced Josh Rosza as early as the second episode. Josh was a supporting character who quickly transitioned into a vampire after his introduction.

Throughout Josh’s time on The Originals, he struggles to handle the brewing war between Marcel and Klaus for New Orleans while growing a friendship with Davina. Josh’s arc allows him to explore what it means to be a vampire in New Orleans, as well as a potential leadership role as he grows more comfortable with Marcel and the other vampires.

He eventually falls in love with a werewolf named Aiden, and they are happy together and about to run away until Dahlia ruins it, killing Aiden in season two. Although Josh and Aiden do not receive the happy ever after they were hoping for, Josh’s final episode does try for a more uplifting conclusion for the couple.

Following Josh’s death in the final season, he reunites with Aiden in Peace, giving the duo a chance for a happy afterlife.

The Mikaelson’s eldest sibling, Freya, eventually falls in love with the werewolf Keelin. Although they do not start on the best foot, Freya and Keelin’s relationship transforms into a friendship and romance.

The duo ends the series as a happily married couple, giving the type of conclusion that representation needs to portray more often. Legacies confirm they even ended up having the child Freya, Keelin, and Vincent discussed a son named after Klaus at the end of The Originals.

However, Legacies also proves how far The Vampire Diaries Universe has come. The spinoff’s first episode describes Penelope Park as Josie Saltzman’s ex-girlfriend.

Josie’s arc was constantly growing, whether it be her friendship with Hope, conflicts with dark magic, or her and Lizzie’s mutual desire to grow out of their co-dependency to form a healthier dynamic.

Following Penelope, Josie also admitted to having crushes on Hope and Rafael. Josie also had relationships with Landon, Jade, and Finch.

Legacies hinted at Hope’s sexual fluidity when she admitted to having a crush on Josie when they were younger.

Legacies also set up Jed and Ben’s romance in its final season. Jed’s storyline comes as a journey of self-discovery, as his relationship with Ben awakens feelings Jed had not anticipated.

The Originaland Legacies had not resorted to awkward stereotypes or tropes in its LGBTQIA+ characters. Instead, they are represented as real people with exciting storylines and distinct personalities.

Although The Vampire Diaries could never quite commit to creating a central LGBTQIA+ character or relationship, the franchise improved on that with The Originals and Legacies. Due to the two spinoffs, The Vampire Diaries Universe got to explore more representation in its characters and romances.

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