Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…

As part of EW's Fandom Week — a weeklong celebration of fandoms and pop culture — we're looking back on 8 seasons of vampire drama, love triangles, and more doppelgängers than we can count with 10 things you might not know about The Vampire Diaries.

1. The pilot episode attracted 4.91 million viewers, the largest premiere viewership for any series on The CW at the time.

"The day after it aired and the ratings were huge and it had exceeded all expectations, everybody was celebrating," Julie Plec remembers.

2. Stefan's opening voiceover was added at the last minute after audience testing showed interest didn't pique until something supernatural happened. They paired his voiceover with leftover footage from Vicki's attack.

As Kevin Williamson previously told EW, "What happened was: If you look at the first act of the show, it very much was your typical CW show: Young girl writing in her diary, she gets up, you meet the troubled brother, you realize the parents are dead, and the vampire did not show up until I think it was minute 8 or 11. When we tested the show for the first time, you know the moment when Stefan compels the woman behind the front desk? The testing score was dead until that moment, the first moment of something supernatural."

3. Co-creator Kevin Williamson put his career on the line to ensure Ian Somerhalder got the role of Damon, even after Somerhalder blew his first audition for the part.

The role of Damon Salvatore came down to Ian Somerhadler and one other actor, and when Somerhalder's audition wasn't perfect, Williamson put his foot down. "It was the only time in my career where I said, 'If he doesn’t get the part I’m going to have to leave the show,'" Williamson told EW. "That’s how much I didn’t want the other person to get the part."

4. Paul Wesley originally auditioned for the role of Damon because he was told he was "too old" to play Stefan. It wasn't until Ian Somerhalder was cast that they agreed to see him for Stefan.

"It was one of those auditions that everyone was vying for, all the young actors were vying for Damon and Stefan because they were such breakout roles," Wesley previously told EW. "And they wouldn’t see me for Stefan because they thought I was too old. [Laughs] So I went in and read for Damon and had a callback and did okay. Then I didn’t hear anything and went on with my life. I actually think I tested for another show. Then I got a call that they were having a bit of a hard time and had done all these tests and they thought they found the guys and they didn’t."

5. Nina Dobrev is six months younger than Steven R. McQueen who played her younger brother Jeremy.

Not only was Dobrev younger than McQueen, but she was only 18 months younger than Sara Canning, who played Aunt Jenna. (Jenna was only supposed to be in grad school, but that still puts her at quite a few years older than Elena.)

6. The Vampire Diaries is the longest-running vampire show on television with a total of 8 seasons. True Blood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer each had 7 seasons.

And that's not including the many shows it spawned, from The Originals' five-season run to Legacies, which is still on the air.

7. On the show, Katherine Pierce is Eastern European and speaks Bulgarian. Nina Dobrev was born in Bulgaria and speaks the language fluently.

Dobrev's Bulgarian came into use mostly in flashbacks on the series.

8. According to showrunner Julie Plec, there were discussions in the writers' room about killing Damon instead of Stefan in the series finale.

"There were two pitches on the table: one that gave perfect closure to the season and then another that gave closure to the whole series," Plec told EW at the time of the finale, adding that there were "just as many discussions over killing Damon as we did over killing Stefan, and let me tell you, for a very long time the pendulum swung the other way."

9. In season 2, Williamson and Plec came up with the series' ending, but when Dobrev left the show in season 6, it was no longer a possibility. In their original ending, both brothers died to save Elena and the series ended with them watching her, side-by-side, as ghosts.

As Plec told EW at the time of the finale, "Back in season 2 when Kevin and I were sitting in the mall and we had fallen in love with this series and this story about two brothers who loved the same girl and the love triangle was kicking into high gear, we said to ourselves: When all is said and done, when this show is over, both brothers should die in the name of saving their girl and then be watching her like ghosts — because we had introduced the Other Side — as she went off into the sunset to live her life and maybe marry Matt Donovan or maybe become a doctor, but that those brothers would be side-by-side watching her live. That was the thing that made us cry all the tears in season 2."

10. The last words of the series are the same as Damon's first words spoke in the pilot: "Hello, brother." Originally, they were going to have the final line be one of Damon's classic snarky one-liners, "Oh, I see they have hero hair in heaven." The writers changed it to make the finale more emotional.

Damon's last "hello, brother" wasn't the only call-back to that pilot moment in the series finale. Earlier in the hour, Katherine Pierce turned to the Salvatore boys and said, "Hello, brothers."

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Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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