The Vampire Diaries: Every Time the Vampire Characters Turned Off Their Humanity (2023)

By Apeksha Bagchi


Many vampires flipped their humanity switch off on The Vampire Diaries and almost always faced dire consequences because of their decision.

The Vampire Diaries: Every Time the Vampire Characters Turned Off Their Humanity (1)

The Vampire Diaries adhered to every vampire trope and trademark, from enhanced abilities to blood-drinking to immortality. However, the CW supernatural drama, which aired from 2009 to 2017, also introduced additions that perked up the plot, including abilities to manipulate dreams, compel humans, shut down their humanity and turn off their emotions, with the latter two allowing the vampires to have carefree lives with no remorse.

Over the course of The Vampire Diaries' eight-season run, many characters turned off their humanity to deal with pain and difficult decisions, which almost always ended with dire consequences.


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Stefan Salvatore Turned Off His Humanity Four Times

The Vampire Diaries: Every Time the Vampire Characters Turned Off Their Humanity (2)

Portrayed by Paul Wesley (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds), Stefan Salvatore turned off his humanity four times, although, the first time he so unknowingly, because he was a new vampire at age 17, guilty and alone after his brother, Damon, left him. Unaware he had turned off his humanity, Stefan lost control over his blood lust and went on a killing spree, until he met another, older vampire, Alexie "Lexi" Branson. She became his best friend and mentored him on how to turn his humanity back on, as well as how to survive on a strict diet of animal blood.

In Season 3, Episode 5, "The Reckoning," the original vampire, Niklaus Mikaelson, compelled Stefan to turn off his humanity. While Stefan kept Elena "safe" for Klaus’ plan to create hybrids with her blood, he reverted back to his early Ripper days, not caring for anything or anyone. It was never shown how Stefan regained his humanity. But when Damon tried to kill Klaus with the White Oak Stake, Stefan saved Klaus, because he knew the hybrids were programmed to kill Damon if the original vampire died. That showed his humanity had returned; although, he acted as if he no longer cared about anyone.

In Season 6, Episode 16, "The Downward Spiral," Stefan turned off his humanity again when Caroline, with her humanity switch flipped, threatened to kill his niece, Sarah. He then made Caroline join him in his killing spree, during which they fed and then left behind injured victims and dead bodies. It was only when Damon brought back their mother, Lily, who had been turned into a vampire, that Stefan turned on his humanity again.

The last time Stefan turned off his humanity was to save Lizzie and Josie Saltzman, Alaric’s daughters, who were kidnapped by Seline, the siren. In exchange, he offered himself up to Arcadius, the creator of Hell, and chose to turn off his humanity for a year to bring him souls. Like always, he fell off the wagon and became a Ripper while he tipped people toward darkness to corrupt their souls. So when did Stefan turn his humanity back on in Season 8? When Cade offered him a choice to be off the contract and instead kill Elena as a bargain, he remorselessly killed Enzo. He only stopped when Bonnie, grief-stricken over Enzo’s death, injected him with the cure, turning him human and, thus, bringing back his emotions as he remembered everyone he slaughtered for Cade.

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When Does Elena Turn Her Humanity Off?

The Vampire Diaries: Every Time the Vampire Characters Turned Off Their Humanity (3)

When her brother, Jeremy, was killed in Season 4 by Silas, Elena (Nina Dobrev) was unable to handle the immense grief and was advised by Damon to turn off her humanity. She didn't go on a killing spree, but she lost all the guilt she associated with killing humans; she was, however, happy to do some blood-binging in broad daylight. She changed her appearance, and her new persona deteriorated to the point that she attacked Bonnie and tried to kill Caroline, pushing Damon and Stefan to break Matt Donovan’s neck, which forced her to feel again.

Damon Salvatore Lost His Humanity Twice

The Vampire Diaries: Every Time the Vampire Characters Turned Off Their Humanity (4)

Along with the vampire Enzo, Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) was tortured by Dr. Whitmore as part of the Augustine Society, which had experimented on vampires since 1953. It was Enzo’s friendship that helped Damon to hold on to his humanity. When he had the opportunity to flee in 1958, Damon tried to free Enzo but failed because the bars of his cage were soaked in vervain. He knew that to save himself, he had to stop caring about his friend -- and so he turned off his humanity and left Enzo to die. With no guilt remaining, Damon led a reckless life for years, during which time he unknowingly killed Maggie James, Enzo’s one true love.

In the 1970s, Damon hosted wild parties and was feeding upon people when Lexi found him and tried to get his humanity back. Damon then tricked her into becoming stuck on a rooftop with sunlight and with no way to escape until nightfall. In 1994, he visited Stefan, who was in Mystic Falls with Uncle Zack Salvatore and his pregnant girlfriend, Gail, whom he killed when Stefan took away his daylight ring. While it was never confirmed when he regained his humanity, in Season 6, Damon claimed that, when he met Zach in 2007, he remembered how he "ruined everything," thus indicating he either regained his humanity or it resurfaced from that point onward.

Damon lost his humanity for the second time in Season 7 when the siren, Sybil, mind-controlled him and Enzo into bringing her the flesh of the wicked she would eat, but their souls were saved for Arcadius to consume. To ensure his conscience didn’t hinder him, she ordered Damon to turn off his humanity. Under her influence, he killed Tyler and joined his brother in killing innocents, but his love for Elena allowed him to retain a shred of humanity that helped him to overcome Sybil. In retaliation, Sybil brought back his humanity, allowing his guilt to intensely hurt him.

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Enzo Also Turned Off His Humanity Twice

The Vampire Diaries: Every Time the Vampire Characters Turned Off Their Humanity (5)

The first time Enzo (Michael Malarkey) turned off his humanity was when he learned Damon killed Maggie. She had attacked Damon with the intention to subdue him and then take him back to the Augustine operations. With his humanity off, he not only beheaded her with his bare hand, but he also staged her body to look like it was Stefan who killed her. Enzo shut down his humanity to stop caring about Maggie’s death and to not hate Damon.

Deciding to act on his whims, Enzo tried to kill Liv, attacked Damon and Stefan when they tried to stop him, kidnapped Elena and tried to kill her. He then attempted to set fire to Stefan, who pulled on Enzo's heart without ripping it out and threatened to kill him. Knowing that nothing would pain Damon more than to know his brother killed his best friend, Enzo stepped back, allowing his heart to be ripped out.

He came back as a ghost and tormented the Salvatore brothers and Elena until Damon assured him that he could be brought back from the Other Side with Bonnie’s help. While it was unknown what flipped his humanity back on, Enzo did join Caroline and began to look for ways to bring back Damon in Season 6, after he got stuck in the Other Side.

Enzo turned off his humanity for the second time in Season 7 after Sybil realized his obedience to follow her commands couldn’t be controlled by her siren call alone. She discovered the bond he shared with Bonnie allowed him to resist her influence and tasked Damon to kill her. Desperate to save Bonnie, Enzo agreed to part ways with his humanity. Later, Bonnie took Enzo back to their cabin and tried everything to recover his humanity, but it was in vain. As a last-ditch attempt, Bonnie set the cabin on fire to force Enzo with her impending death to turn on his humanity, and it worked.

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When Does Caroline Turn Her Humanity Off?

The Vampire Diaries: Every Time the Vampire Characters Turned Off Their Humanity (6)

In Season 6, Episode 14, "Stay," Caroline Forbes’ mother, Elizabeth, died of a rare cancer, despite her daughter's attempt to cure her with vampire blood. Unable to cope with the pain of her death, Caroline (Candice King, who recently returned in the spinoff Legacies) flipped her humanity switch before Stefan could tell her that he loved her. Without her humanity, Caroline didn’t care what others thought and kept herself busy with shopping, partying and drinking. However, she was still in full control of her blood lust, knowing that a string of bodies would put the police on her trail.

She told Elena and Bonnie that all she needed was a year without feeling pain, grief, or remorse and if during it anyone or anything tried to bring back her humanity, there would be dire consequences. Her warning was tested when Stefan tried to trigger her feelings for him. Knowing that Stefan would keep trying to bring back her humanity, she retaliated by kidnapping his niece, Sarah, and compelled Liam to kill her, forcing Stefan to turn off his humanity.

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Accompanied by Stefan, who was going into his Ripper mode, Caroline abandoned her careful "routine" of leading a normal life when Stefan pushed her to join him on killing sprees. She went as far as to torture people just for fun; she even tried to kill Tyler and Matt, which resulted in the latter getting staked.

When Damon triggered Stefan’s humanity by bringing back their mother, the younger Salvatore once again pursued Caroline and convinced her that his humanity was still off. He tricked her into getting caught by Damon, Elena and Bonnie and successfully brought back her emotions by putting visions of her mother in her head, pushing Caroline to break down and face everything she had done in her attempt to suppress her pain.

To see all the vampires switch their humanity on and off, stream The Vampire Diaries on HBO Max.

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