A History Of 'Vampire Diaries' Flashbacks

by Ryan J. Downey

Tonight the Salvatore brothers will pay a visit to New Orleans (the setting of Anne Rice's legendary supernatural tome "Interview With a Vampire") in the present day, which opens up an opportunity to take a look at Stefan and Damon's exploits in NOLA back in the early '40s. Both were apparently enlisted during World War II but still found time to hang with the ladies—Damon with a girl named Charlotte and Stefan with his platonic pal Lexi.

Despite all of the numerous opportunities to explore various time periods (Damon discovers Atari! Stefan hangs with Elvis!), "The Vampire Diaries" executive producer Julie Plec has long maintained that the show only travels back in time when flashbacks will reveal something that's important to the present or future. The show has resisted temptation to overuse this plot device, but still offered plenty of fun trips backward.

From the 1490s when Katherine met Klaus, the 1860s when the Salvatores were first turned, 1912 when Damon started turning evil, the roaring '20s when Stefan was locking lips with Rebekah, recent times when Alaric's wife was turned and when Elena and Jeremy's parents passed away—heck, even all the way back 1,000 years when the Original Vampires were created, "The Vampire Diaries" has taken quite a few insightful trips down memory lane. Let's go back in time:

Season 1

"Lost Girls," "Children of the Damned" and "Blood Brothers" spent a lot of time in the 1860s, showing us a lot about the Stefan/Damon/Katherine triangle, the "church vampires" and the Gilbert family back in the day. Most importantly, we learned that Stefan sorta forced Damon into vampirism and Damon hated him for it. In "Bloodlines," we saw Damon "kill" Alaric's wife. Who could guess that years later, Damon would be saving Alaric's seat at the Grill?

Season 2

The appropriately titled "Memory Lane" headed back to the 1860s for more of Stefan/Damon/Katherine, as well as some information about the Lockwoods and the Moonstone. Season two's "Katerina" and "Klaus" took us to Bulgaria in 1490; fun fact: Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva (a.k.a. Nina Dobrev) was born in Bulgaria. We learned that Katherine was born Katerina Petrova and a whole heckuva a lot about her history with Klaus, Elijah and the whole doppleganger thing, as well as the Moonstone curse. "The Dinner Party" explained how Lexi started to get Stefan out of his first "Ripper" phase. "As I Lay Dying" revealed even more about Damon's obsession with Katherine way back when.

Season 3

The Roaring '20s! "The End of the Affair" gave us Stefan's first encounter with Klaus and Rebekah; we got a ton of Rebekah's backstory in "Ordinary People," jumping back 1,000 years. "1912" was the beginning of "evil" Damon, or at least a Damon who could enjoy being a vampire, courtesy of prizefight hang-around Sage. "The Departed" showed us what life was like for cheerleader Elena when her adoptive parents were still around. My, my, how things changed!

Season 4

"The Vampire Diaries" has had some steamy sex scenes before, including the forbidden romp between Damon and Rebekah, but "The Five" has probably taken the cake thus far with that flashback to Rebekah and Alexander.

What will we learn from "We'll Always Have Bourbon Street"? Tune in tonight at 8/7c to find out.

What's been your favorite "Vampire Diaries" flashback episode so far? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!