Stefan and Caroline have been toeing the line between friendship and maybe something more for over a season now on "The Vampire Diaries." But last night's season six midseason premiere brought these vampire BFFs closer than ever before -- and all it took was a little bit of hand-holding that was anything but chaste.
So are Caroline and Stefan following in the footsteps of one of TV's most iconic friendships-turned-romances, "Dawson's Creek's" Joey and Pacey? "TVD" executive producer Julie Plec -- who also worked with Kevin Williamson on "Dawson's Creek" -- says she "welcomes" the comparisons.
"I remember the day that I knew it was a friendship that was meant to grow and grow and grow and see if we could go anywhere with it," Plec told E! News. "And that was episode two of season two." Fans will recall that this is the episode when Stefan helped baby vampire Caroline come to terms with her new undead reality. And even though Stefan was with Elena at the time, there was undeniable chemistry between the two -- similar to Joey and Pacey's sparks in season three of "Creek."
But just how similar are Stefan and Caroline to our ultimate OTP Pacey and Joey? The bickering, the sexual tension, and the build up are all pretty much the same, so will it be Caroline who gets the guy on "TVD?" Let's take a look:
The Slow Burn
What sets Joey and Pacey's romance apart from other TV relationships is the way in which it was convincingly built. Throughout the third season of "Dawson's Creek," Joey and Pacey slowly grew closer, and their emerging friendship steadily grew into something more than platonic. So when Pacey finally realized his feelings for Jo -- "You know you love someone when you can spend the whole night sitting by the fire watching them sleep.” -- it was a rewarding moment for viewers, who, despite the obvious OTP-ness of Dawson and Joey, had begun to hardcore ship Pacey and Joey.
As for Caroline and Stefan, they didn't really start getting close until season two, when Katherine mistakenly turned Caroline into a vampire. This was the not only the start of Steroline's friendship but also Caroline's evolution from a whiny, self-absorbed Queen Bee to a self-aware, spunky vampire. Yes, this means that Caroline is definitely the Pacey. She realized her feelings for Stefan first, and she's been the one making all of the moves since.
Now that Stefan is finally over Elena -- it only took four seasons -- we've been able to see how Stefan and Caroline's "friendship" has evolved over the years. Caroline is Stefan's rock; she's the only person he feels comfortable opening up to. And Stefan (for the most part) has been there for Caroline when she's needed him most. When she hooked up with Klaus, Stefan was the only one to defend her, and now that her mom is dying from cancer, it's Stefan who's helping her find a way to cure it. Plus, Steroline has had enough "will they, won't they" moments this season to warrant a kiss by the end of the season.
The Grand Gesture
Pacey cemented his status as TV's best boyfriend when he bought Joey, a painter, a wall at the end of season three because she wanted a bigger canvas. Pacey was planning a sailing trip around the world, so he asked Joey to ask him to stay by painting it on the wall. ("ASK ME TO STAY.") She didn't. Instead, she sailed off into the sunset with him... on the True Love.
Meanwhile, on "TVD" Caroline stepped up to be Stefan's "sober sponsor" in season four. In the aftermath of his break-up with Elena, Stefan was having a hard time not indulging his bloodlust. But it was Caroline who told him that she wouldn't let him fall off the blood-a-holic bandwagon -- and she kept her promise. Then, in season five, Stefan returned the favor when Caroline was struggling to deal with Bonnie’s death. “You have me," he told her. "You’re always there for me. So let me be there for you.” Sure, Stefan may not have bought Caroline a wall, but when her mom asked him to buy Christmas lights because Caroline loves Christmas, he did it -- and even the smallest gestures count for something.
The Third Wheel
"Dawson's Creek's" complicated love triangle spanned six seasons and left fans guessing up until the very end -- literally. In the end, however, Pacey got the girl, and lifelong friends Dawson and Joey were better off as childhood soulmates. There's no denying that Dawson and Joey had a strong connection, but they were both pretty miserable when they were together. But Joey and Pacey not only had a spark, but they also made each other better people. Pacey brought out Joey's carefree side, while Joey inspired Pacey's decision to open up his own restaurant -- the Icehouse -- in Capeside. Sorry, Dawson. It was never meant to be.
On "The Vampire Diaries," it was Elena Gilbert who found herself between two Salvatore brothers: Stefan, her emotional rock (and doppelganger soulmate), and Damon, the firecracker vampire she truly loved. In the season four finale, Elena made her choice once and for all when she told Damon she loved him after years of denial -- and let Stefan go find his own happiness. Like Dawson and Joey, Stefan and Elena just weren't right for each other. Stefan was too cautious, too afraid of the unknown when he was with Elena. His relationship with Caroline changed all of that.
Plus, there's the fact that Caroline, like Pacey, was not originally a main character. In "Dawson’s Creek," the heart of the show was Dawson and Joey’s bond -- but it was Pacey who got the girl.
With so many similarities between the two couples, we can pretty much come to the conclusion that not only is Stefan and Caroline's relationship destined for romance, it's also pretty much endgame.