A Beginner’s Watch Order Guide to The Vampire Diaries Universe

If you’ve grown up watching various teen dramas like me, there’s a high chance you still have a soft spot for The CW’s popular teenage fantasy, The Vampire Diaries. With two spinoffs and one primary series, it might be overwhelming for a beginner to jump into the Mystic Falls.

But don’t worry. Whether you’re a beginner, an ex-teenager wanting to dive into some nostalgia, or a fan who simply wants to rewatch the franchise, this article is for you.

I have got you covered for every possible watch order for the Vampire Diaries Universe, consisting of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and The Legacies.

After reading this article, hopefully, you’ll be able to choose the watch order that best suits you and walk into the world of vampires, werewolves, and witches.

1. The Vampire Diaries Universe Release Order

The Vampire Diaries Universe collectively refers to the original CW series, The Vampire Diaries, along with its two spinoffs, The Originals and The Legacies. The Vampire Diaries ran from September 10, 2009, to March 10, 2017, with 171 episodes over eight seasons.

The Originals premiered on October 3, 2013, and ended on August 1, 2018, having aired 92 episodes over five seasons. The Legacies is the shortest out of the three, having four seasons and 68 episodes. The last season premiered in 2022.

A Beginner’s Watch Order Guide to The Vampire Diary Universe
The Originals | Source: Netflix

The easiest and most basic watch order to begin watching the franchise is to follow the good old release order. If you’re a beginner, you could follow this order, especially since the other two shows are spinoffs of the original series.

Here’s the release order for the franchise:

  • The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017)
  • The Originals (2013-2018)
  • The Legacies (2018-2022)

In this order, I haven’t considered specific seasons. Since The Originals premiered while The Vampire Diaries was airing, the episodes of the series have overlapped since TVD Season 5. Following the release order while also keeping every episode or season in mind might be a little complex for a beginner.

So, if you’re a beginner, I would suggest you watch one series at a time, following the above order.

2. The Ultimate TVD Universe Watch Order (Chronological Order)

Now this one is for those vampires who are veterans! In other words, you could follow this watch order if you’re rewatching the franchise, or want to experience it in the actual timeline order. In a way, you could call this the chronological order, but I prefer to call it the ultimate one because this is not something I would recommend for beginners.

As I mentioned above, after Season 5 of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals ran simultaneously with TVD through Seasons 5 to 8. The Originals follows the story of Klaus Mikaelson and his siblings going through their own set of problems after their track in TVD is over.

So, to follow the events exactly in accordance with the timeline of the two shows, here’s the watch order you could follow. A short disclaimer before we begin, this may be complicated, but it will be worth it. The credit for this complicated but spot-on watch order for all TVDU fans goes to a Quora user.

  • The Vampire Diaries (Seasons 1-5)
  • The Vampire Diaries Season 5 Episodes 1 and 2
  • The Originals Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2
  • The Vampire Diaries (Seasons 5-7) and The Originals (Seasons 1-3) alternatively. This means, you watch one or two episodes from each series, and continue alternating between the two, until you reach The Vampire Diaries Season 7 Episode 22 and The Originals Season 3 Episode 22 (For example, TVD S5 E3 and 4, The Originals S1 E3 and 4, TVD E5 and 6, TO S1 E5 and 6 and so on)
  • The Vampire Diaries Season 8
  • The Originals Seasons 4 and 5
  • The Legacies (Seasons 1-4)
A Beginner’s Watch Order Guide to The Vampire Diary Universe
The Legacies | Source: IMDb

The Legacies is a spinoff series set after the events of both The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. The series focuses on the life of Hope Mikaelson, the daughter of Klaus and Hailey.

In a way, it is a continuation of the saga of both its prequel shows. So, no matter which watch order you follow, The Legacies should be watched after you’re done with both The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.

3. Which is the best order to follow?

For beginners, it is best to follow the chronological order. The release order is simple and easy to follow, with no hassle of alternating between two shows. Moreover, it is not necessary to watch TVD and The Originals together to be able to understand and enjoy both.

So, if you’re watching the shows for the first time, follow the classic release order. If you enjoy the shows and ever want to rewatch, go for the chronological order.

A Beginner’s Watch Order Guide to The Vampire Diary Universe
Elena and Damon in The Vampire Diaries | Source: IMDb

The chronological order, in contrast, is recommended for anyone who is rewatching the franchise or wants a different experience. This order helps viewers follow the saga in a complete way, and you can follow the events of both shows simultaneously, just as it is taking place within the TVD universe.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? So, if you want to have some fun rewatching the franchise, go for this order!

4. Runtime and Binge Duration

Here’s how much time it will take for you to get sired to the shows, as a newbie or all over again:

  • The Vampire Diaries: 7 days 3 hours (171 hours)
  • The Originals: 3 days 16 hours (88 hours)
  • The Legacies: 1 day 20 hours 40 minutes (44 hours 40 minutes)
LEGACIES Official Trailer 2018

So, according to my calculator, it will take you approximately 11 days 15 hours, and 40 minutes to become completely sired to the franchise! Good luck!

5. Where to Watch The Vampire Diaries Universe

  • All episodes of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and The Legacies are streaming on The CW.
  • The Vampire Diaries and The Originals are also available to binge on Netflix.
Watch The Vampire Diaries on:
Watch The Originals on:
Watch Legacies on:

6. About The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries is an American supernatural teen drama television series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, based on the book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith.

The series premiered on The CW on September 10, 2009, and concluded on March 10, 2017, having aired 171 episodes over eight seasons. It stars Ian Somerholder, Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev in lead roles. 

The series is set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town charged with supernatural history. It follows the life of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a teenage girl who has just lost both parents in a car accident, as she falls in love with a 162-year-old vampire named Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley). Their relationship becomes increasingly complicated as Stefan’s mysterious older brother Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) returns to Mystic Falls. 



7. About The Originals

The Originals is an American fantasy supernatural drama television series that began airing on The CW on October 3, 2013. It is a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries and the first television series expansion of the franchise based on its parent series. The series follows vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson as he and his family become embroiled in the supernatural politics of the French Quarter of New Orleans.

The series aired for 92 episodes over five seasons. It stars Joseph Morgan,  Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin and Charles Michael Davis among others. 

8. About Legacies

Legacies revolves around the life of Hope Mikaelson, the 17-year-old orphan daughter of Klaus Mikaelson and Hayley Marshall, who were first mentioned in The Vampire Diaries. Two years after the devastating events of The Originals, Hope joins Salvatore School for the Young and the Gifted, where she tries to master her vampire/werewolf/witch tribrid powers.

Legacies is from Julie Plec, one of the creators of the Vampire Diaries. It premiered on October 25th, 2018, on The CW.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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