- 1) Which character had the strongest emotional arc
2) Which character drove the most story
3) Which character had the most key focus in their scenes (and in scenes not involving them)
4) Which character interacted with the most characters
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 1
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 2
SEASON ONE, Episodes 21-22, SEASON TWO, Episodes 01-08
1.21 - "Isobel" | Elena Gilbert -- Other than Alaric, whose main concern was (understandably) Isobel, practically every other character acts/reacts in relation to Elena. Everything that Damon, Stefan and Bonnie do is for or asked of them by Elena. And except for the final scene with Alaric, all of Isobel's actions are driven by Elena. Even the Matt, Tyler and Caroline scenes have a hand in Elena's story due to Isobel's need to control her, and Jeremy's sole purpose in the episode is to be bait to get Elena hopping to Isobel's beat.
1.22 "Founder's Day" | Damon Salvatore -- While all of the main characters have mini-plots that weave and intersect, and are driven by their own actions and motivations, Damon's actions and motivations are by far the strongest. He is now driven by his feelings for Elena and the town, as well as his own emerging humanity, making quite a difference from the vampire who showed up at the start of the season. Also, by nature of the fact that it is because of Damon that the tomb vampires were released, he ultimately drove the most story since almost everything that happened was driven by that release. He was the key focus in all of his scenes, as well as the focus in scenes not featuring him, and he interacted with the biggest variety of players. So Damon it is to close the season out.
2.01 "The Return" | Damon Salvatore -- Despite wrapping up several cliffhangers from the finale, this episode was definitely Damon-focused. He played a part in almost every story (including Caroline's -- something he wasn't a part of in "Founder's Day"), and interacted with practically every character featured (minus only John, Tyler and Matt). Damon was also the focus -- at some point -- of every character that he interacted with, and there was discussion about him in scenes where he didn't appear. We also saw him with the strongest emotional arc, as the guy pretty much ran through almost every single emotion possible.
2.02 "Brave New World" | Caroline Forbes -- After the shocking close of "The Return," this episode explored Caroline big-time. The strongest arc was easily hers as she went from freaking out to ignoring the turn before falling apart when it reared its head, killing someone, almost being killed herself to finally ending the episode on a calm, more confident note. We also saw her interact with several other characters, and she was much of the focus of Elena, Bonnie, Stefan, Matt and Damon's scenes.
2.03 "Bad Moon Rising" | Caroline Forbes -- While Elena could easily claim this episode, I decided on Caroline again as this one is rather a continuation of "Brave New World." Not only do we continue to see Caroline take steps to regain control of her life, we also see her make great character strides in dealing with the vampire in her. Also, Elena's story dovetails into Caroline's. Even though, I did originally list Elena for this episode, in the end, I just feel there was more character and focus on Caroline as a person, as opposed to the plot mechanics (Elena's road trip).
2.04 "Memory Lane" | Stefan Salvatore -- I feel it's actually a bit of a cheat to list Stefan for this one because like in "Let the Right One In," Stefan is more the vehicle through which other stories are driven (Elena and Damon in the earlier episode, Katherine in this one). However, I don't consider Katherine a main character, and none of those I do consider main drive enough story to justify the title (Bonnie isn't even in this episode). The closest is probably Caroline, but her plot is driven by Katherine ... which brings us back to Stefan. While we don't get much of his point of view, he is what appears to drive Katherine, and the majority of her focus is on him, as is Elena's to a large degree. So Stefan it is.
2.05 "Kill or Be Killed" | Damon Salvatore -- Stefan, Elena, Caroline and Damon all are featured heavily, but with the first three, their stories wind up mostly touching upon one another in supporting bits and pieces. On the other hand, Damon also touches upon each of their plots, but in a much more significant way. He drives most of Stefan's actions, is the reason behind Mason's revenge and the subsequent response by Liz upon learning the truth ... which leads to Caroline's reveal. And in the cellar, despite that moment with Caroline, and Stefan being hurt as well, Damon (and what he might do) is the primary focus. Damon also inserts himself in the Caroline/Liz story: In the beginning, by defending Liz to Caroline, and then towards the end, the reverse in defending Caroline to Liz. Finally, it is Damon that convinces Elena that Stefan needs to ingest human blood, thus being the final drive in that story. With that said, I do concede that it could be argued for Caroline (whom I originally had listed for this one) or Elena as the central character. Stefan -- as he is most of this season, is merely reactionary and/or supporting. However, because Damon is a major force to some degree in all plots, I went with him.
2.06 "Plan B" | Damon Salvatore -- Again with the Damon? Yup. This one is mostly because while Stefan, Elena and Caroline have strong plots with emotional arcs playing out (Caroline and Liz, Stefan and Elena's break-up, for reals!), Damon is a key driving force in almost all events that take place. It's his plan to capture Mason, he designates who does what, including sending Stefan to the well, and thus what results there is on Damon to a degree. It's his killing of Mason, and subsequent taunting of Katherine that leads to (a) Jenna stabbing herself (b) Elena breaking up with Stefan, and (c) Matt becoming plan b. So Damon definitely drives most of the story, interacts with most characters, and has his own emotional journey in seeing himself in Mason, and his glee, then regret in taunting Katherine. With regards to focus, there's not one character who has a significant amount of focus placed upon them much more than any other.
2.07 "Masquerade" | Elena Gilbert -- This one could have gone to Damon simply because he has the strongest emotional arc by far. His obsession with getting Katherine out of the tomb, and his reaction to her absence in it has driven much of his actions since his arrival, and this episode gave him closure on that. However, Elena drove the most story as their pull to kill Katherine was to keep Elena safe, then the actions of the others were driven by the need to keep her from getting hurt, and finally, she was kidnapped. She was also the key focus of all of the characters (to a strong degree) at several points in the episode. Interaction-wise, everyone interacted with just about everyone else (except for Jenna and Alaric), so that's a draw. And so, Elena it is.
2.08 "Rose" | Elena Gilbert -- There are essentially only two stories in this episode: The burgeoning Tyler/Caroline/Matt triangle, and Elena's kidnapping. The former is the B-plot and involves only those three (but for an early, brief appearance by Damon), while the latter is what drives the rest of the episode, and brings in the other characters. Almost every scene is focused on Elena, whether it be the search and rescue, or Damon's feelings for her. And like "Fool Me Once" (and unlike "Let the Right One In" with Stefan), Elena as the kidnap victim is not just a victim. She fights back, aiding her own rescue as much as possible.
Tally thus far --
Elena - 9
Damon - 9
Stefan - 7
Caroline - 4
Bonnie - 1
Almost half-way through season two, Damon is now tied with Elena for the most episodes featuring him as the central character, and season two features Damon, Elena and Caroline as separate characters with their own arcs and plots, while Stefan is mostly a supporting player to the above three. In fact, "Rose" is the last episode that features Stefan as the lead character/hero in the "previously on ..." opening.