- 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
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 3
SEASON TWO, Episodes 09-16
2.09 "Katerina" | Elena Gilbert -- Like "Memory Lane," this episode is actually more Katherine-centric than any other character. However I don't consider her a lead character, so going with the leads, this one definitely goes to Elena. She is the one who drives Katherine to reveal more of her story, both Caroline and Stefan are focused on Elena. Meanwhile, all of Damon's scenes are about Elena, either finding out more doppelganger information, or denying his feelings for her.
2.10 "The Sacrifice" | Elena Gilbert -- The arc that began in "Rose" with Elena learning of the doppelganger hits its first crescendo in this episode. Thus, Elena is clearly the central figure here. She drives the story big-time. Other than the Tyler-Caroline plot, everything else is centered on Elena. Stefan, Damon, Jeremy and Bonnie spend the entire episode trying to figure out a way to save Elena, while she comes up with her own plan. Not only is the plot Elena-driven, motivation for all characters (again, except for Tyler and Caroline) is focused on Elena.
2.11 "By The Light of the Moon" | Elena Gilbert -- Other than the supporting character of Tyler, no one lead went through an emotional arc, but the other three factors were very much in place for Elena. She drove the most story -- the gang was working to figure out the sun-and-moon curse and save Elena, so all of their actions (except for Caroline and Tyler) were about directly taking care of that. In addition, it was Elena who made the deal with Elijah, sending the story into a new direction. She was also the focus of every character (again, except for Caroline and Tyler) at various points, and she interacted with the most characters (the same amount as Damon). So, a bit by default -- since Tyler is not a lead character -- this one goes to Elena.
2.12 "The Descent" | Damon Salvatore -- I think that out of every episode so far, this is the first one that essentially has only one lead. With other episodes, even if they strongly showcased their central character, there was strong stories and motivation going on with other characters. In this one, the Matt/Caroline/Tyler triangle is more of a C than even a B plot, and but for roughly three scenes, every other scene (not about the triangle) was about Damon to some degree, driven by Damon, caused by Damon or featuring Damon himself. So, yeah, this episode? Damon all the way.
2.13 "Daddy Issues" | Damon Salvatore -- Despite having a strong Elena and Caroline arc, this one goes to Damon too, even if just barely. We see a strong character arc from him, get his motivations more closely examined as well as being a huge part of the action going on. Caroline has her kidnapping and the subsequent scenes that followed, and Elena dealt with Daddy Uncle John, but Damon was a huge part of both of those stories. He was also trying to deal with his emerging humanity, thus making him the central lead again.
2.14 "Crying Wolf" | Elena Gilbert -- Like with "By the Light of the Moon," other than the supporting character of Tyler, no one lead went through an emotional arc. Also like in that one, Elena drove the most story (again, with the sun-and-moon curse leading to Elena's death situation), but it was her existence that drove Tyler's story leading him to where he was at the end, and it was because of her (by making the deal with Elijah), that Damon survived the werewolf throwdown. As well, because of the sun-and-moon curse, she was again the key focus in almost all of her scenes, and ones not involving her. She didn't interact with the most characters, that would be Damon, but of the three more central-indicators, Elena was stronger in two of them.
2.15 "The Dinner Party" | Damon Salvatore -- Bonnie had a strong arc, but it was very definitely a C-plot. And despite the Stefan flashbacks and the Stefan/Elena discussions surrounding those flashbacks, as well as her deal with Elijah, there was little new revealed and Stefan and Elena remained as static as ever. The only character stuff learned from the flashbacks was in the final one with Lexi and Damon. Yup, Damon ... who also essentially set up all that happened in the A-plot (aka, the dinner party). Even outside of that, there was a bit of focus on him in the Stefan and Elena scenes. Finally, Damon interacted with every character on screen except for Bonnie, Jeremy and Caroline.
2.16 "The House Guest" | Bonnie Bennett -- Of the main cast only Bonnie, Caroline and Damon had any character stuff going on that was related *to* them as opposed to the plot machinations. Elena and Stefan were in support mode for the most part while the other three drove their stories and each experienced growth of some sort. I decided to go with Bonnie because Damon and Caroline's arcs have been developing over several episodes and haven't reached their peaks yet, whereas Bonnie hit a turning point in this one. She has power, possibly greater than before, and was also a part of another story (girls' night out). Damon and Caroline, on the other hand, were pretty much confined to their own stories. So Bonnie finally gets another one.
Final Tally (until new episodes ... squee!) --
Elena - 13
Damon - 12
Stefan - 7
Caroline - 4
Bonnie - 2
So we're up to the current batch of episodes and Damon remains just behind Elena as the central character. There are six episodes yet this season and I could easily see Damon taking the lead, but I doubt that Stefan or Caroline will catch up, although another episode or two thrown their way would be cool. Regardless of what tally all end up with, it's clear that midway through season one, the popularity and unexpected breakout-star status of Ian Somerhalder and Damon Salvatore led to his role as one of two central characters (Elena being the other), and unless things drastically change, I can see the two trading the top spot in this count until the show ends.